Chief says CN thriving, not just surviving
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Principal Chief Bill John Baker gave the annual State of the Nation address on Aug. 30 at the Cherokee Courthouse lawn with a key message that 175 years after Cherokees walked the Trail of Tears, the Cherokee Nation is not just surviving in northeastern Oklahoma but thriving.
Baker said the red brick courthouse is a symbol of the strong spirit living within the CN because people who had just experienced one of the worst tragedies in American history built it.
“It was 175 years ago, we arrived here in eastern Oklahoma and began our greatest chapter – building the largest, most advanced tribal government in the United States,” he said. “Our ancestors were pulled from their homes in the east, forced into stockades and marched here to Indian Territory by a federal government that tried to brutally extinguish us. But in 1839, right here in Tahlequah, we reconstituted our government and we rebuilt our schools. We rebuilt our courts and recreated the commercial success we had in the southeast.”
Baker thanked Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, members of his Cabinet and the Tribal Council for working for the Cherokee people and for helping place the CN on a strong footing.
“And we commend all our employees at the Cherokee Nation and say to each and every one of you, wado. We could not have done it without you,” he said.
We believed the purpose of a good government, a strong government and a fair government is to make life better for its citizens.
– Principal Chief Bill John Baker
Baker also highlighted the investments the CN is making to benefit the Cherokee people such as building new homes, expanding health centers and services and creating jobs.
“As principal chief, my goal is a simple one: make the lives of Cherokees better, and do it every day. Every decision is based on that goal. That is the definitive mission,” he said. “We believed the purpose of a good government, a strong government and a fair government is to make life better for its citizens. And we are succeeding.”
More homes, better health care and increased hope through education and jobs are a result of the tribe’s investments in its people, he added. One of the highlights of that investment is the number of Cherokees the CN is employing in its government and businesses.
“We employ more than 9,000 people in northeast Oklahoma, and more than 80 percent of them are Cherokee, compared to less than 70 percent three years ago,” he said. “That’s more than 1,200 (who) are Cherokees working for their tribe. That’s more Cherokees taking home paychecks to their families, and 1,200 more Cherokees who know their tribe is here for them.”
All of the tribe’s successes have a $1.3 billion dollar economic impact on Oklahoma, he said.
“As the largest employer in the 14 counties, we are the engine that is driving this economy,” Baker said. “Across the 14 counties, we’ve rebuilt roads and torn down crumbling bridges, rebuilding them from the ground up.”
He provided examples of the tribe’s work in communities such as expanding waterlines in Nowata to provide safe drinking water, building a water tower in West Siloam Springs and completing water sanitation projects in Oaks and Locust Grove. The CN also continues to give annual cash donations to volunteer fire departments in the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction.
“These investments help better people’s lives. The Cherokee Nation has proven time and time again to be the critical piece in what drives prosperous communities,” he said.
About a year ago, Baker announced a plan to overhaul the CN’s health system. Four health centers in Ochelata, Stilwell, Sallisaw and Jay are under construction or are finished. Also, the CN has budgeted more than $60 million for a new hospital in Tahlequah.
“Our casinos have grown to be very profitable. So we called for $100 million dollars from our casinos to be use for new health facilities for our people,” he said. “Having profitable casinos is wonderful, but it is useless if it doesn’t benefit our people in the ways they need it most, like health care.”
Baker said he believes the tribe’s ancestors would be proud of the progress being made and where the tribe is headed.
“It was 175 years ago that hope carried our people through unimaginable hardship,” he said. “Our ancestors would be proud of where we have been, the progress we are making today and where we are going. We owe it to them to continue and protect that sacred legacy.”
ᏓᎵᏆ, ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ. – ᎤᎬᏫᏳᎯ Bill John Baker ᎤᏃᎮᎸ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᏙᏢᏒ ᎤᏃᎮᎸ ᎾᎿ ᎦᎶᏂ ᏦᏍᎪᎯᏁ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎾᏓᏱᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᏙᏯᏗᏢ ᎤᏍᏚᎢᏍᏔᏅ ᎤᏃᎮᏢ ᏍᎪᎯᏧᏈ ᎦᎵᏆᏍᎪ ᎯᏍᎩ ᎾᏕᏘᏯ ᏥᎨᏒ ᎣᏂᏃ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎾᏂᎩᏎ ᏥᎨᏥᏱᎳᏫᏛᎮ ᎦᏅᏅᎢ, ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ Ꮭ ᏙᎯᏳ ᏕᏛᏅᏋ ᎢᎦᎢ ᏱᎩ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏴᏢ ᎧᎸᎬ ᎢᏗᏢ ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ ᎾᏍᎩᏍᎩᏂ ᎠᏙᏢᏍᎪ ᎠᎵᏍᏕᎸᏙᏗ.
Baker ᎤᏛᏅ ᎾᎿ ᎩᎦᎨ ᏅᏯ ᎠᏁᎢᏍᏔᏅ ᎠᏓᏁᎸ ᏧᎾᏓᏱᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᏓᏟᎶᏍᏗ ᎤᏟᏂᎩᏓ ᎠᏓᏅᏙ ᎦᏁᎳ ᎭᏫᏓᏗᏝ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵᎢ ᏅᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᏭᏦᏎᏛ ᎤᏂᎦᏙᎲᏒ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎻᎵᎧ ᎧᏃᎮᏢᎢ ᎤᎾᏁᏍᎨᎯ.
“ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏍᎪᎯᏧᏈ ᎦᎵᏆᏍᎪ ᎯᏍᎩ ᎾᏕᏘᏯ, ᎢᎩᎷᏣ ᎠᎭᏂ ᎤᏕᎵᎬ ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ ᎠᎴ ᎢᎦᎴᏅᎭ ᏭᏔᏂᏴ ᎠᏯᏙᎸ ᎢᏓᏁᏍᎨᏍᎬ, ᏭᎪᏛ ᎤᎵᏌᎳᏓᏂ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᏒ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎹᏱᏟ,” ᎤᏛᏅ. ᏗᎦᏤᎵ ᏗᎩᎦᏴᎵᎨ ᎤᏳᎾᎵᏍᏔᏅ ᏫᏗᎨᏥᎾᏌᏁᏏ ᏚᏁᏅᏒ ᎧᎸᎬ ᎢᏗᏢ, ᏫᏗᎨᏥᏌᏙᏯ ᎢᎾ ᎢᎦᏘ ᎠᏐᏴ ᎤᏠᏯ ᎦᎾᏝᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎨᏥᏱᎴᎾ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ ᎤᏂᎷᎯᏍᏗ ᎠᏛᏅᎢᏍᏛᎢ ᎾᎿ ᏩᏥᏂ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᏒᎢ ᎤᎾᏁᎸᏔᏂ ᎤᏁᎫᏥᏓ ᎤᏅᏙᏗ ᎨᎩᏛᏙᏗᎢ. ᎠᏎᏃ ᏁᎳᏚ ᎢᏍᎪᎯᏧᏈ ᏦᏍᎪ ᏐᏁᎳ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒ, ᎠᎭᏂ ᏓᎵᏆ, ᏙᎪᏢᎯᏌᏂ ᏙᎩᏍᏓᏱᏓ ᎠᏰᎵ ᏚᎾᏙᏢᏒ ᎠᎴ ᏙᎦᏁᏍᎨᎯᏌᏅ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᏯᏍᏊ ᏧᎾᏓᏱᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏙᎪᏢᎯᏌᏅ ᏧᎬᏩᎶᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎤᎪᏙᏏ ᎾᏍᎩᏯ ᏥᎩᎲᎢ ᎾᎿ ᎤᎦᎾᏮᎧᎸᎬ ᏥᏕᎲᎢ.”
Baker ᏚᎵᎮᎸᏤᎸ ᏓᎵᏁ ᎦᏙᎩ ᎤᎬᏫᏳᎯ S. Joe Crittenden, ᎠᏁᎳ ᏧᏤᎵ ᎠᏰᏟ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ ᎠᏂᎾ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᏗᏂᎳᏫᎩ ᎾᎿ ᏚᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎲ ᎤᎾᎵᏍᏕᎸᏙᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏂᏍᏕᎸᎲ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᏝᏂᎩᏓ ᎤᎳᏏᏗᎢ.
“ᎠᎴ ᏙᏥᏅᏫᏍᏗ ᏂᎦᏓ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᎴ ᏂᏨᏪᏎᎭ ᎢᏥᏏᏴᏫᎭ, ᏩᏙ. ᏝᏃ ᏱᏂᎦᏲᎦᏛᏁᎴ ᏂᎯ ᏂᏤᎸᎾ ᏱᎩ,” ᎤᏛᏅᎢ Baker ᎾᏍᏊ ᎤᏃᎮᎸ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᏕᎳ ᎠᏙᏢᏍᎬ ᎠᎾᎵᏍᏕᎸᏙᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᏯᏛᎾ ᏗᏤ ᏓᎾᏁᏍᎨᏍᎬᎢ, ᏕᎧᏁᏉᎬ ᎤᎾᏓᎪᎵᏱᏗ ᎩᎶ ᏳᏓᏂᎵ ᎠᏰᏟ ᏓᏙᏢᏍᎦ ᎠᎴ ᎤᎾᎵᏍᏕᎸᏙᏗ, ᎠᎴ ᏗᎦᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎾᏍᏊ ᏓᏙᏢᏍᎦ.
“ᎾᎿ ᎠᎩᎬᏩᏳᎯ ᎨᏒ, ᏓᏊᎪᏛ ᎠᎯᏓ: ᎦᏥᏍᏕᎸᏗ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᎾᎴᏂᏙᎲ ᏓᏤᏢᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᏂᏓᏙᏓᏈᏒ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗᎢ.
ᏂᎦᏓ ᏕᎫᎪᏗᏍᎬ ᎬᏗᏍᎪᎢ ᏗᎫᎪᏔᏅᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎤᏙᎯᏳᎯ ᎥᎩᏅᏏ,” ᎤᏛᏅᎢ. “ᎢᎪᎯᏳᏃ ᏄᏱᎵᏛ ᎾᎿ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᏙᏢᏒ, ᎤᏟᏂᎩᏓ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᏙᏢᏒ ᎠᎴ ᏚᏳᎪᏛ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᏙᏢᏒ ᎾᎿ ᏓᏤᏢ ᎤᎾᎴᏂᏓᏍᏗ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ. ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏂᏛᏁᎭ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗᎭ.”
ᎤᎪᏛ ᏚᏁᏅᏒ, ᏓᏤᏢ ᏧᎾᏓᎪᎵᏱᏗ ᏲᏓᏂᎸ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎪᏙᏍᎬ ᎤᏚᎩ ᎾᎿ ᏗᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏗᎦᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᏧᎬᏩᎶᏗ ᎠᏙᏢᏍᎬᎢ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ, ᎤᏛᏅᎢ. ᏌᏊᏃ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎦᎸᎳᏗᏢ ᎨᏒ ᎾᎿ ᎧᏁᏉᎬ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᏕᎨᏥᎾᏢᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᏙᏢᏒ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏕᎳ ᎠᏙᏢᏍᎦ ᏚᏙᏢᏒᎢ.
“ᏕᏗᎾᏢᎾ ᎤᎪᏓ ᎾᏃ ᏐᏁᎳ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏴᏢᎧᎸᎬ ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ, ᎠᎴ ᎤᎪᏛ ᎾᎿ 80% ᏯᏛᎾ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ, ᏗᏟᎶᏍᏔᏅ ᎦᏲᏟᎨ 70% ᎾᏃ ᏦᎢ ᎾᏕᏘᏯ ᏥᎨᏒᎢ,” ᎤᏛᏅᎢ. “ᎤᎪᏓᏃ ᎾᏃ ᏌᏊ ᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏔᎵᏧᏈ (ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ) ᏚᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵᏨᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏂᎪᏓ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᏓᏂᎾᏫᏗᏍᎪ ᎨᎦᏈᏴᎡᎸ ᏙᏧᏁᏅᏒ ᏏᏓᏁᎸ ᏚᏃᏢᏒᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᏌᏊ ᎤᎦᏴᎵ ᏔᎵᏧᏈ ᎤᏂᎪᏓ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎤᎾᏁᏓ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᎤᏙᏢᏒ ᎤᏅᏙᏗ.”
ᏂᎦᏓ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᎤᏃᏢᏅ ᎤᎭ $1.3 ᎢᏯᏔᎳᏗᏅᏛ ᎢᏕᎸ ᎠᎵᏏᏅᏔᏅ ᎠᏛᏅᎢᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ, ᎤᏛᏅᎢ.
“ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏭᏂᎪᏛ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ ᎾᎿ ᏄᎦᏚ ᏗᏍᎦᏚ, ᎠᏂᎩᏍᏗᏍᎩ ᎯᎠ ᏣᎢ ᎠᎵᏍᏕᎸᏙᏗ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Baker. “ᏗᎦᎾᏗᎯᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏂᎦᏚ ᏗᏍᎦᏚᎩ, ᏅᏃᎯ ᏕᎪᏢᎯᏌᏅ ᎠᎴ ᏓᏒᏢᏕᎩᏲᏍᏔᎾ, ᏙᎪᏢᎯᏌᏅ ᎦᏙ ᏅᏛᎬᎴᏂᏍᎩ.”
ᎤᏛᏅᎢᏍᏔᏅ ᏗᎬᏟᎶᏍᏙᏗ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᏚᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎲ ᏗᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᏯᏛᎾ ᏓᏂᎪᏗ ᎠᎹ ᏧᏪᏓᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ Nowata ᎣᏍᏓ ᎠᎹ ᎤᎾᏗᏔᏍᏗ, ᎠᎴ ᎠᎾᏁᏍᎨᏍᎬ ᎤᏔᎾ ᎠᎹ ᎠᏟᏍᏙᏗ ᎾᎿ West Siloam Springs ᎠᎴ ᎠᏍᏆᏗᏍᏗ ᎠᎹ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎬᏩᏅᏙᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎢᎬᏩᏅᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏧᏍᎪᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎧᎶᏇᏗ. ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᏱᎵ ᎠᎵᏍᎪᎸᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᏕᎳ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎾᎵᏍᎪᎸᏗᏍᎩ ᏗᎦᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᏯᏛᎾ ᏗᏅᏢᏗᏍᎩ ᏚᎾᏙᏢᏒ ᎾᎿ ᏂᎦᏚ ᏗᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᏗᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎭᏫᎾᏗᏢ.
“ᎯᎠ ᎤᏙᏢᏅ ᎠᎾᎵᏍᏕᎸᏙᏗᏍᎪ ᏓᏤᏢ ᎤᎾᎴᏂᏓᏍᏗ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ. ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏄᎵᏍᏔᏅ ᎢᎸᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᏩᎪᏛ ᎤᏲᏟ ᎨᏒ ᏃᏊ ᎧᏁᏉᎩ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ,” ᎤᏛᏅᎢ.
ᎾᏃ ᏑᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᏥᎨᏒ, Baker ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏄᏩᏁᎸ ᏚᏄᎪᏛ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎢᏳᏅᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᏰᎸ ᏄᏛᎿᏕᎬ ᏚᏙᏢᏒᎢ. ᏅᎩ ᏧᎾᏓᎪᎵᏱᏗ ᎠᏰᏟ ᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᎾᎿ Ochelata, ᏍᏗᎵᏪᎵ, ᏌᎷᎾᎨᏴ ᎠᎴ ᏠᏯᎪ ᎾᎿ Ꮟ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏂᏓᏅᏁ ᎠᎴ ᎢᎦᏓ ᏧᏂᏍᏆᏛᎢ. ᏃᎴᏍᏊ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᎵᏍᎪᎸᏔᏅ ᏑᏓᎵᏍᎪ ᎢᏳᏆᏗᏅᏓ ᎾᎿ ᎢᏤ ᏧᏂᏢᎩ ᎤᎾᏁᏍᏙᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏓᎵᏆ.
“ᏧᏂᏆᏂᏲᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏚᏁᏉᏣ ᎠᎴ ᎧᏁᏉᎦ ᏧᎬᏩᎶᏗ. ᎣᎩᏁᏣ ᏍᎪᎯᏧᏈ ᏳᏆᏗᏅᏓ ᎠᏕᎸ ᏂᏓᏳᏓᎴᏅ ᏧᏂᏆᎾᏲᏍᏗ ᎬᏔᏂᏓᏍᏗ ᏗᏤ ᏧᎾᏓᎪᎵᏱᏗ ᏧᏙᏢᏗ ᏧᏅᏙᏗ ᏗᎦᏤᎵ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ,” ᎤᏛᏅ. “ᎢᎩᎲ ᏧᎬᏩᎶᏗ ᎠᏙᏢᏍᎬ ᏧᏂᏆᎾᏲᏍᏗ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎣᏍᏓ, ᎠᏎᏃ Ꮭ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᏱᎩ ᎢᏳᏃ ᏗᎦᏤᎵ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎾᎾᎵᏍᏕᎸᏙᏗᏍᎬᎾ ᏱᎩ ᎾᎿ ᎤᎪᏛ ᎤᏂᏂᎬᎬᎢ, ᏯᏛᎾ ᏧᎾᏓᎪᎵᏱᏗᎢ ᏲᏓᏂᎵ.”
Baker ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᏬᎯᏳᏒ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᏧᏂᎦᏴᎵᎨ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏯᏂᏱᎸᎾ ᎢᎦ ᎤᏁᏉᏨ ᎨᏒ ᎠᎴ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᏩᎦᏔᎢ.
“ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏍᎪᎯᏧᏈ ᎦᎵᏆᏍᎪ ᎯᏍᎩ ᎾᏕᏘᏯ ᎨᏒ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏚᎩ ᎤᏂᎦᏛᎴᏒ ᏗᎦᏤᎵ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᏫᎾᏍᏛᎾ ᎤᏦᏎᏗ ᎤᏂᎦᏛᎴᏒᎢ, ᎤᏛᏅ. ᏗᎩᎦᏴᎵᎨ ᎢᎦ ᏯᎾᎵᎮᎵᎦ ᎾᎿ ᎢᎨᏙᎸ, ᎤᏁᏉᏨ ᏂᏓᏛᏁᎲ ᎪᎯ ᎢᎦ ᎠᎴ ᎾᎿ ᏫᏗᎦᏛᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗᏍᎬ ᎢᏓᎢᏐ ᎠᎴ ᎢᎦᎵᏏᏅᏙ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏓ ᎤᏂᎯᏴᎢ.