TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation leaders gathered Tuesday afternoon to officially break ground on a $10 million, state-of-the-art Career Readiness Campus southwest of Tahlequah.

The Career Readiness Campus will be the home of the new Cherokee Nation Building Trades Program and will provide space for expanding training opportunities in the construction field such as electrical, plumbing, masonry and HVAC. The campus will also house the tribe’s high-voltage lineman training program and fiber technician training program among others.

“Career training for Cherokee citizens must be every bit as valued as a college education. We have put over $30 million toward that effort since 2019 and now, this new funding marks another major education investment,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “With this new career readiness campus, we’ll continue to work with our partners in the region in career tech centers, but we will now have our own facility for some of our unique programs, in turn helping improve citizens’ lives and employability. This will make our communities and our Nation stronger.”

In September 2022, Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner proposed, and the Council of the Cherokee Nation approved, an amendment to the tribe’s 2019 legislation known as the Career Readiness Act. The amendment commits an additional $10 million to the legislation to start building the new campus. When complete, the campus will help train thousands of Cherokees in career trade programs.

“We truly believe the most powerful thing the Cherokee Nation can do for Cherokee citizens is to provide them a platform for achieving their own goals and dreams. We do that through our Education Department by providing scholarships and other services for those who choose the higher education path. But not all Cherokees want to take that path, so investing in career training is just as important,” Deputy Chief Warner said. “In Northeast Oklahoma and all around the country, many of the fastest-growing industries are in skilled trade that can be both lucrative and sustainable over the long-term.”

  • Cherokee Nation breaks ground on $10M Career Readiness Campus

    Cherokee Nation leaders gathered Tuesday afternoon to officially break ground on a $10 million, state-of-the-art Career Readiness Campus southwest of Tahlequah.

The Career Readiness Campus will be located southwest of Tahlequah on more than 20 acres where the Cherokee County Fairgrounds was previously located before Cherokee County officials began to build a new fairground in a new location.

The initial $10 million investment represents just one phase of the future campus.

“These are money-making trades. These are trades that get our elders’ heat and air on, fix their water problems, build Cherokees their first home or fix or replace their roofs, connect our kids to this digital world and more,” said District 8 Councilor Shawn Crittenden, Chair of the Council’s Education Committee. “Jobs and problem-fixing - taking care of our people. What a great direction the Cherokee Nation is heading. So many great decisions and follow-through by Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Warner. This is not only teaching people to fish, it’s teaching with Zebco 33s.”

The amended legislation signed in 2022 to fund the campus also extends the Career Readiness Act through the end of fiscal year 2025. It also sets a goal of placing Career Service offices within 30 miles of every Cherokee citizen within the Cherokee Nation’s 7,000-square-mile reservation. Cherokee Nation opened its ninth Career Services satellite office last year in Wagoner as part of this ongoing effort.

The Career Readiness Act of 2019 doubled the tribe’s investment of its own revenue into career training programs. Additionally, the tribe committed over $29 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to assist Cherokee citizens in attending career training programs through December 2024. So far about 3,000 Cherokee citizens have received career training assistance through the legislation.

For more information on Cherokee Nation programs and services, including how to participate in opportunities provided through the Career Readiness Act, visit www.cherokee.org and visit the Career Services section of the website.