TAHLEQUAH -- The Cherokee Nation recently released a map showing CN citizen population in each of the 50 states.
CN citizens live in every state with Oklahoma having the largest population with approximately 240,417 CN citizens. California has the second-largest population with 22,124 and Texas 18,406.
Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. commissioned the map to update a map created in 2013.
"(Tribal) Registration reports to me, and we look at population growth from time to time. It had been five years and being out in the communities, the 14 counties (CN jurisdiction), and having the opportunity to go to at-large community meetings, I've seen the attendances grow. I was kind of curious about the change in the numbers and where people are," he said. "I just think there was a general interest, and it just seemed like a good time for an update."
The map shows a population of more than 360,000 CN citizens, but currently there are approximately 365,000 citizens. In 2013, the CN had a population of approximately 320,000 CN citizens.
"So, we've had a pretty good uptick. I knew from working with our Registration department and being out in our communities we have a population increase. I thought it would be in public interest to see that," Hoskin said. "If I go into communities in the 14 counties or if go to an at-large community and talk about the fact that we have Cherokees in every state, I think that means something to our people, and they like to know that we have footprint that's nationwide. This illustrates that footprint."
Hoskin said there was some negative reaction to the map because it does not include Cherokee people who are Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizens in western North Carolina. The CN does not have EBCI population statistics. Also, the count for Oklahoma does not include United Keetoowah Band citizens.
As outreach to some out-of-state Cherokee populations, the CN is affiliated with 24 satellite groups and may add more. Eight of the 24 satellite Cherokee groups are in California. Newly formed Cherokee groups in Georgia and Arkansas are interested in being affiliated with the CN. Affiliation allows satellite groups access to annual visits by tribal leaders and cultural and history specialists.
Hoskin said Cherokee population numbers are also used when CN representatives visit Congress members.
"It's particularly handy when we are visiting with senators from the state of California, for example. It's my understanding the largest single tribal population in the state (California) are Cherokee citizens," he said. "I think when we are talking about issues that are important to us, and we are in Washington, D.C., it's good to know we can go to every member of the United States Senate and talk about the Cherokees they represent."
Cherokee populations can also be presented to House of Representatives members by district, if needed, he said.
"Because this is a state-by-state snapshot, I think it's useful for advocacy purposes," Hoskin said. "It (map) just reaffirmed that we are a tribe with a nationwide presence. Of course, we have the population presence, and we can even show we have a business presence in most of these states, I think 47 (states) by last count, so I think it would be interesting for Cherokees to see this map to show this nationwide footprint, in this case population."