Baker highlights 7-year tenure at State of the Nation
Principal Chief Bill John Baker delivers the State of the Nation address at the 66th annual Cherokee National Holiday on Sept. 1 in Tahlequah. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – According to Principal Chief Bill John Baker’s State of the Nation address on Sept. 1, the Cherokee Nation has created more jobs, stronger families and a more vibrant economy over the past seven years.
Baker’s speech spotlighted the progress made under his administration during the 66th annual Cherokee National Holiday celebration.
“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 said. “Today, Cherokee families have unprecedented opportunities.”
Baker spoke about construction projects put into place, including 700 homes built for Cherokee families, and a 469,000-square-foot outpatient health facility under construction in Tahlequah will bring more than 800 health jobs for the tribe.
“The crown jewel of our facilities will soon be the largest tribal health center in America,” Baker said. “When it opens next year, it will revolutionize the ability to care for our citizens.”
Other accomplishments he touted included welcoming Freedmen citizens into the CN after ending a decades-old dispute. Also, the CN 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, he said 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, he said.
“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,” Baker said. “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, after the Cherokee National Holiday parade.