Published April 8, 2019
Relationships make the world go round. And that’s exactly why Cherokee Nation’s Community and Cultural Outreach Department helped foster connections between at-large Cherokee communities and local nonprofit groups within the tribe’s boundaries. This “sister community” effort was started to provide community organizations, both local and at-large, an opportunity to exchange ideas, knowledge and resources.
Chief Bill John Baker
At our annual CCO conference, we hosted a networking session that offered local and national organization leaders the chance to get to know each other and share their missions and objectives. At the end of this session, they paired up to form sister communities, and those connections are still alive and thriving. CCO facilitated the partnerships, but the communities themselves have done all the hard work of outreach and maintaining contact. Additionally through CCO, we are able to offer grants for the local community groups to send out one or two representatives from their organization to visit their sister community and do a presentation for them.
Having a sister community keeps Cherokee organizations connected, as they send each other their newsletters and flyers and simply keep in touch with their mutual needs. If one of the groups is doing a fundraiser, then the other might help out in some way with a donation. If an organization is doing a coat drive or an Angel project, we’ve seen the sister community also do a coat drive and send the collected coats to the sister community or adopt several Angels. It’s Cherokees helping Cherokees.
The Mt. Hood Cherokees in Portland, Oregon, and the Stilwell Friends of the Library here in Adair County have established a strong bond of friendship and communication. These sister communities have come to understand the importance of connecting through Cherokee partnerships, as they continue to visit in person and exchange cultural, historical and social information.
When we had extreme flooding here in 2016, the Neighborhood Association of Chewey opened their community building to shelter flood victims. Their sister community in Houston sent gift cards to NAC for them to distribute to Cherokees in need. It wasn’t long before NAC was able to return the favor. When Houston sustained damage from Hurricane Harvey in 2017, NAC and others here in northeast Oklahoma quickly collected supplies. Our CCO team hauled two large cargo trailers of donated supplies to Houston, and the Cherokee Nation at-large group in Houston organized the distribution on site.
Today, we have 25 organized at-large Cherokee communities through CCO. Not every group has found a sister just yet, but our goal this year at the upcoming CCO conference is to make sure that all of our at-large groups have a sister community.
The current CCO sister communities include
· Central OK Cherokee Alliance (Oklahoma City, OK) and Webbers Falls Museum
· Central Texas Cherokee Township (Austin, TX) and Adair Co Historical Society
· Cherokee Citizens League of Southeast Texas (Houston, TX) and Cherokee Elders
· Cherokee Community of Central California (Bakersfield, CA) and Muldrow Cherokee Community
· Cherokee Community of North Texas (Dallas, TX) and ORCO
· Cherokee Community of Puget Sound (Seattle, WA) and Jeremiah 29
· Cherokee Society of the Greater Bay Area (San Francisco, CA) and Cherokees for Black Indian History Preservation
· Cherokee Township of San Antonio (San Antonio, TX) and Tailholt
· Colorado Cherokee Circle and Brushy Cherokee Community
· Cherokee of the Greater Central Valley (Fresno) and Mid County Community Org
· Greater Wichita Area Cherokee Community (Wichita, KS) and Tahlequah Men’s Shelter
· Kansas City Cherokees (Kansas City, MO) and Vian Peace Center
· Mt. Hood Cherokees (Portland, OR) and Stilwell Public Library Friends Society
· Tsa-La-Gi LA (Los Angeles, CA) and Cherokees for Black Indian History Preservation
· Valley of the Sun Cherokees (Phoenix, AZ) and Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club
· Capital City Cherokees (Washington, DC) and Stilwell Public Library Friends Society
For more information about Cherokee Nation’s CCO department, visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CNCCO/.
Bill John Baker is principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.