Claremore Daily Progress

State/Nation

May 23, 2014

Chief Baker addresses Chamber

CLAREMORE —

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker was featured as guest speaker for the monthly Claremore Chamber Luncheon Thursday at the Rogers State University Centennial Center. 
Baker informed community leaders and guests about the current positive investments of the Cherokee Nation into the lives of not only tribal residents, but residents all over Oklahoma.
In the past two years, Cherokee Nation Businesses (CNB) board of directors have increased business growth, not just in gaming but in outside businesses as well. Baker said in two years, CNB assets have increased by 22 percent in revenue and 20 percent in equity.
“What do we do with this success? We put it to work for the people,” he said.
Most recently, Baker has spearheaded and launched a comprehensive plan to renovate and expand the Cherokee Nation health system, which is the largest privately operated health system in the U.S.
“If you don’t have good health, you have nothing,” Baker said. “We’re taking $100 million of CNB’s, mainly gaming dollars, and we’re putting it into health care for our people. We’re building a brand new clinic south of Bartlesville; we’re replacing a 70-year-old hospital in Jay. We’re expanding two clinics in Stilwell and Sallisaw, and we’re going to finish it up with a brand new surgical hospital in Tahlequah.”
Baker said education has always been a priority for the Cherokee people. The same money that is given to native Americans to help them attend school, can be used to help fund the public education system.
“The money is not in the formula for the state’s public education. Superintendents should be able to use some of those funds to match federal grants,” he said. “No strings attached. They can use it for anything, it doesn’t just have to be for indian children.”

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