TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation has created more jobs, stronger families and a more vibrant economy over the past seven years, Principal Chief Bill John Baker highlighted in his State of the Nation address.
Chief Baker’s speech spotlighted the progress made under his administration during the 66th Annual Cherokee National Holiday celebration on Saturday.
“Ambitious ideas, coupled with swift actions, have created sustainable change over the past seven years and have solidified a firm foundation for the future,” Baker told the crowd. “Today, Cherokee families have unprecedented opportunities.”
The Holiday theme is “Family: A Bridge to the Future, A Link to the Past.”
Chief Baker spoke of the multitude of construction projects put into place, including 700 new, affordable homes built for Cherokee families.
A 469,000-square-foot outpatient health facility currently under construction in Tahlequah will bring more than 800 new health jobs for the tribe.
“The crown jewel of our facilities will soon be the largest tribal health center in America,” Chief Baker said. “When it opens next year, it will revolutionize the ability to care for our citizens.”
Other accomplishments include welcoming Freedmen citizens into the Cherokee Nation after ending a decades-old dispute. Also, Cherokee Nation was the first tribe to file a lawsuit against opioid retailers, as well as manufacturers, and filed other lawsuits to defend natural resources and trust assets.
“All of this progress was made possible by working on a government-to-government basis with our state and federal partners,” he said.
In the past seven years, college scholarships awarded to Cherokee students increased by 43 percent, and the tribe made record investments in public schools, roads and business development. New language preservation investments, such as the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program, were also established.
“I hope we will be remembered as the administration that set the foundation for the future, the foundation for success that took bold steps to provide better health care and offer more education and opportunities for Cherokee people,” Chief Baker said in his closing. “We may always carry the weight of the infamous Trail of Tears on our shoulders, but we have persevered and reshaped our path to ensure Cherokees and our government have a brighter future.”
The State of the Nation address was held at the tribe’s newly constructed Cherokee National Peace Pavilion, located behind the Cherokee National Courthouse in downtown Tahlequah, just after the Cherokee National Holiday parade.
For the full Cherokee National Holiday Schedule, visit www.Cherokee.org and click on the Holiday link.