- By Chuck Hoskin Jr
Guest Commentary. With the results certified and finalized after recent Cherokee Nation elections, I want to thank every Cherokee Nation citizen across the country who exercised their right to vote. Friends, your voices were heard, and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner and I are honored to serve the Cherokee people for another term.
Voter turnout for this year’s election increased 24% compared to the last general election in 2019. The increased voter participation is a testament to the efforts of the Cherokee Vote education campaign that helped thousands of citizens register and vote in our tribal democracy, as well as local, state and federal elections.
Even after this election, Cherokee Vote continues to show up at numerous events across our reservation and at-large communities, because the work to strengthen our democracy never ends. They are also reminding voters in Council Districts 1, 3 and 8 that they have a runoff election on July 8.
It is natural for tensions to rise around election time. But now that voters have spoken, we have a responsibility to come together to improve our future as Cherokees. Enemies of Cherokee Nation’s sovereignty want to divide us, but with unity we can achieve so much more.
During my second term as Principal Chief, I will advance projects that uplift and empower our tribe and its citizens. We must prioritize a broad range of needs for our citizens across all phases of life. Some key areas include:
- Economic Development: We must continue to promote Cherokee Nation economic growth, job creation and entrepreneurship. We will attract new employers to our 7,000-square-mile reservation, diversify our own businesses, build out infrastructure like transportation and broadband, and grow opportunities for Cherokees to find success in the career that is most meaningful to them.
- Education: During my administration, Cherokee Nation will continue to be a strong ally of education at all levels – from early childhood education and Head Start to public K-12 schools to increased college scholarship dollars and vocational training opportunities. We will advance respect for Native culture and accurate history education in all public settings.
- Language: Having completed the Durbin Feeling Language Center and a new Immersion School campus in my first term, we have a strong foundation to build on. Still, the task of revitalizing our language and passing on the knowledge of our first-language Cherokee speakers is immense. This remains a top priority, because our unique identity as Cherokees depends on it.
- Health Care: Accessible health care is a fundamental right for every Cherokee Nation citizen, and it always will be. In the next four years, we will complete a new, state-of-the-art hospital in Tahlequah, build wellness centers across the reservation, and expand opportunities for mental health and telehealth so Cherokees can get needed care wherever they are.
- Sovereignty: Whether it’s getting the U.S. to finally seat the Cherokee Nation Delegate to Congress, defending the Indian Child Welfare Act, or exercising our right to provide a blanket of protection over the Cherokee Reservation that was recognized in the McGirt decision, I will continue to fiercely defend Cherokee Nation’s sovereignty. I am always ready to find win-win solutions with those who respect our sovereignty, and I will always stand up to those who don’t.
In each of these areas, I believe Cherokees have far more that we agree on than disagree. But coming together is not just about the Chief's or Deputy Chief’s vision or the Council of the Cherokee Nation’s agenda. Every Cherokee Nation citizen has a role in shaping our shared future. As Cherokees, our strength will always depend on our unity. I believe we can build on the momentum of increased voter turnout, work together with respect, and create a brighter future for generations to come.
Chuck Hoskin, Jr. is the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.
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