TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Council of the Cherokee Nation on Tuesday approved legislation that will provide additional funding opportunities for educators in northeast Oklahoma who want to teach Cherokee history and culture in their classrooms.
Each year the Cherokee Nation donates millions of dollars to more than 100 school districts in Oklahoma. Funds donated to these schools are from the sale of tribal car tags, with the Cherokee Nation allocating 38 percent of its annual car tag revenue for education. Tuesday’s modification to the Cherokee Nation motor vehicle licensing and tax code provides additional dollars for school programs that teach Cherokee language, culture and history.
“Across the Cherokee Nation, many of our hard-working educators are looking for new ways to teach Cherokee history and culture to their students,” Deputy Speaker of the Council Victoria Vazquez said. “This new change will allow us to provide them with the training and materials to accurately teach Cherokee culture and history to their students. I believe this will open up the door to new and exciting opportunities at many of our area schools and I look forward to seeing how this funding can help our teachers in sharing the Cherokee story.”
The Council of the Cherokee Nation also approved adding $6.5 million in funding for the Durbin Feeling Cherokee Language Preservation Act. The Act, previously proposed by Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and approved by the Council, allows the tribe to make its largest investment ever into its language programs. Of the funding, $5 million is provided by Cherokee Nation Businesses to create the Durbin Feeling Language Center, which will house the Cherokee Immersion Charter School, Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program and the tribe’s team of Cherokee translators. Another $1.5 million is for operational costs associated with the language program’s expansion.
The Council also approved an additional $1 million for skilled training services as part of the Career Readiness Act, which was also previously proposed by Chief Hoskin and approved by the Council of the Cherokee Nation. The legislation doubles the tribe’s funding from $1 million to $2 million per year so more tribal citizens can train in the areas of construction, health, information technology and line worker trade jobs.
“Expanding our Cherokee language programs is vital to both preserving and perpetuating the Cherokee language, and I appreciate the Council of the Cherokee Nation for taking this next step to ensure the necessary funds are set aside to begin the expansion,” Chief Hoskin said. “I also want to thank the Council for approving and funding the Career Readiness Act, which will allow even more Cherokees to find the right training opportunities in a number of trade careers that require specific skillsets.”
In other business, the Council of the Cherokee Nation also:
• Confirmed the reappointment of John Sparks and the appoinment of Shawna Baker as members of the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission.
• Confirmed the nomination of Kristy Sturgill as an editorial board member of the Cherokee Phoenix.
• Confirmed the reappoinment of Roberta Gibson as a board member of the Sequoyah High School Board of Education.
• Authorized the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service to donate surplus specialized bicycles to the Tahlequah Police Department.
• Greeted members of the 2019-20 Tribal Youth Council, who introduced themselves to Tribal Councilors prior to the business portion of the meeting.
The next Council of the Cherokee Nation meeting will be Monday, Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex in Tahlequah.