Hoskin, Warner, 8 councilors sworn in at inauguration ceremony
Chuck Hoskin Jr. wraps up his first speech as principal chief during the Aug. 14 ceremony at the Cherokee Casino Tahlequah. Hoskin and other elected leaders were sworn in during the ceremony that attracted hundreds of spectators. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Bryan Warner is officially sworn in as the new deputy chief by Supreme Court Justice John C. Garrett on Aug. 14 as Warner’s wife, Maco, looks on. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
New and re-elected members of the Tribal Council, including Keith Austin, left, and Dora L. Smith Patzkowski are sworn into office on Aug. 14 at the Cherokee Casino Tahlequah. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Outgoing Principal Chief Bill John Baker says farewell on Aug. 14 during an inauguration and swearing-in ceremony for leaders that include Baker’s successor, Chuck Hoskin Jr. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Flanked by his wife, January, Chuck Hoskin Jr. is sworn in as the Cherokee Nation’s new principal chief on Aug. 14 by Supreme Court Justice John C. Garrett. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee National Youth Choir members sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Cherokee Nation’s inauguration and swearing-in ceremony on Aug. 14 in Tahlequah. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – Concluding months of campaigning and waiting for election results, the newly elected principal chief, deputy chief and tribal councilors made it official on Aug. 14 when they were sworn into office during a ceremony at the Cherokee Casino Tahlequah.
Chuck Hoskin Jr., of Vinita, assumed his role as principal chief, and Bryan Warner took his post as deputy chief.
“Today we come together to celebrate a tradition that crosses three centuries – Cherokee democracy and the transition of public office,” Hoskin said. “But as we celebrate, let us remember that this moment, and all the other moments in which we celebrate Cherokee democracy, are not preordained. They are not guaranteed. These moments are not simply handed to the Cherokee people. These moments come because for generations, when allowed the God-given right to self-identify and govern ourselves, Cherokees have fought, shed blood, shed tears, lost land and treasure for the right to govern ourselves as free people.”
Speaking to an overflow crowd numbering about 1,200, Hoskin said it was perseverance and a willingness to acknowledge their differences that have allowed the Cherokee people to continue governing themselves despite often facing tall odds.
“Every day, the Cherokee Nation and its more than 370,000 citizens are making history,” Hoskin said. “I believe we survived because we found those things that bind us together. Generation after generation, we find that common cause and we move forward, together, past the obstacles before us. This does not mean that we should not honor and respect our differences. There has never been a time in the history of the Cherokee Nation in which there were not differences between Cherokees.”
Hoskin pointed to the determination of past Cherokees to move forward through the Removal (Trail of Tears) and allotment, and that “moving forward” did not mean rallying to a chief of politician.
“Politicians and chiefs come, and they go,” he said. “Future generations will measure us less by who we elected, and more on whether we remained a people committed to each other as countrymen and committed to this great democracy. I instead call on the Cherokee people to rally around the ideas and initiatives that bind us together today. I call on my fellow Cherokees to rally around those pursuits that create a bright future to keep this great nation strong long after I leave office.”
Among the issues Hoskin has said his administration will address are health care, the tribe’s minimum wage, preservation of the Cherokee language and dealing with a state government that has indicated it wants to renegotiate the gaming compact.
Hoskin touched on those issues in his inauguration speech. He said citizens “must rally to the cause of saving our precious Cherokee language” and that Oklahoma and the U.S. “have never had a better friend than the Cherokee Nation,” but that the friendship must be “built on respect for the Cherokee Nation.”
Also, at the ceremony, former Principal Chief Bill John Baker passed the leadership post to Hoskin. “(Hoskin) will serve as your principal chief with as much loyalty, devotion and energy as when he served as my secretary of state. Our best days remain ahead of us. Through the tremendous success of our businesses, the strength and tenacity of our people and the transparency and openness of our government, we have ushered in a new golden age for the Cherokee people.”
Following remarks by the outgoing deputy chief, S. Joe Crittenden, who held the post for eight years, Warner was sworn in as deputy chief.
“I don’t have to tell any of you, he is a tough act to follow,” Warner said. “I am much obliged to Chief Baker and Deputy Crittenden for the dedication they have demonstrated throughout the last eight years. They have been our watchmen, day after day, every single night, standing firm at their post to ensure our sovereign nation is protected and allowed to flourish under the guidance coming from each they serve.”
Warner, of Sallisaw, served a term as the Dist. 6 representative before being elected deputy chief. A former college science instructor, Warner was campus director at Carl Albert State College in Sallisaw, but stepped down to focus on his new role with the CN.
“I come before you today humbled by the opportunity to continue to serve my tribe,” Warner said after he was sworn into office. “We are all here because of the sacrifices and dedication of Cherokees who came before us. We come together today to build a stronger future for those who will follow.”
Warner thanked his wife, Maco, children and Hoskin.
“It will be my esteemed pleasure to take the post with the man I hold in high regard,” Warner said. “Chuck Hoskin Jr. is more than a teammate. He is a friend, and I will forever be grateful for his guidance from yesterday, today and tomorrow.”
Before the speeches, the recently elected tribal councilors were sworn in. Taking their oaths for their second terms are Rex Jordan-Dist. 1, Shawn Crittenden-Dist. 8 and Keith Austin-Dist. 14. New councilors are Wes Nofire-Dist. 3, Daryl Legg-Dist. 6, Dora L. Smith Patzkowski-Dist. 12 and Joe Deere-Dist. 13. At-Large Councilor Julia Coates returns to the Tribal Council after previously serving from 2007-15.