Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. delivered his fifth State of the Nation address Saturday, Sept. 2 from the heart of the historic Cherokee Nation capital city, reminding Cherokees the tribe’s strength “rests upon a foundation of our people and our sovereignty.”


TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. delivered his fifth State of the Nation address Saturday, Sept. 2 from the heart of the historic Cherokee Nation capital city, reminding Cherokees the tribe’s strength “rests upon a foundation of our people and our sovereignty.”

The annual address was part of the 71st annual Cherokee National Holiday and offered a glimpse of how Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner will continue to defend Cherokee sovereignty while working with fellow Cherokees to “make the 21st Century a great Cherokee century.”

“In the coming year, the opponents of tribal sovereignty will continue to press their tired old case to move this country backward, to retreat from justice and to push the United States to escape its obligations to the Cherokee people,” Chief Hoskin said. “But we will meet their insistence on turning back the clock with a greater commitment to moving this country forward. We will match their isolation with our solidarity. We will meet their lies with the truth. We will take the defense of tribal sovereignty wherever it leads us, be it the courts, the halls of Congress, the state legislature or out in the communities. The enemies of sovereignty will work hard but we will work harder, and we shall not rest. And in that same spirit, anyone who extends a hand of friendship to the Cherokee Nation will be met with that same hand of friendship. On that basis we can make our tribal lands, and the entire region, a place of growing prosperity and opportunity for everyone.”

Whether it’s expanding the criminal justice system, protecting the tribe’s most vulnerable citizens, exercising rights to hunt, fish and gather, or building up its economy, Cherokee Nation “is realizing so many of the dreams of our ancestors,” Chief Hoskin said.

“Our progress on healthcare can be felt near and far. Our workforce is growing, and we have new staff and services for citizens both here at home and at-large. We broke ground on a new outpatient center in Salina and a new hospital here in our capital city. But we cannot rest when it

comes to moving toward our goal of a world-class system of wellness for the Cherokee people,” Chief Hoskin said. “Last year we extracted $100 million from the opioid industry to make those corporations pay for the damage they have done to our citizens and our nation. The Public Health and Wellness Fund Act, on which the Deputy Chief and I worked with the Council, turns those dollars into a once-in-a-generation opportunity to heal. We will soon unveil plans for constructing new drug treatment facilities across this reservation over the next five years.”

From Dewey to Marble City, from Kansas to Kenwood, from Vian to Greasy, from Catoosa to Hulbert, from South Coffeyville to Stilwell and from Bowlin Springs to Belfonte, Chief Hoskin said the tribe is making progress to build strength in its communities.

“In the last four years, across 128 projects and over $20 million, we provided grassroots community organizers with new and better facilities to do what they do best: Caring for elders, making safe places for kids and creating hubs for the revitalization of our language and culture,” Chief Hoskin said. “But we must do more. Deputy Chief Warner and I will send legislation to the Council to expand the community building capital program under the Housing, Jobs and Sustainable Communities Act. As long as the Cherokee people are willing to organize and build up their communities, the least we can do is provide them with a community building.”

The Cherokee Nation is also working on plans to bring high-speed Internet and cell phone service to additional Cherokee communities after working earlier this year to bring a cell tower to Kenwood, where cell service didn’t exist.

“As we understood in Kenwood, we cannot expect Cherokees to seize opportunities in commerce, education, employment or healthcare if they are cut off from the world of connectivity,” Chief Hoskin said. “We will soon unveil a plan to eliminate more gaps, building cell towers and bringing high-speed internet and cell service to 16 more Cherokee communities over the next three years.”

But the tribe must do more than invest in buildings and technology, Chief Hoskin said: “We must also invest in people.” Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Warner will send new legislation to the Council of the Cherokee Nation to invest $2 million into the tribe’s new Gadugi Corps program for volunteer and national service.

“Former Councilman Shawn Crittenden and his Gadugi Corps task force have been hard at work to plan our newest, and I think most promising, program. Gadugi Corps calls upon Cherokees both here at home and at-large to serve their fellow Cherokees with the full support and resources of our Nation,” Chief Hoskin said. “We have a nation of citizens full of optimism and a willingness to serve. They look around and see an elder suffering, or they see a Cherokee child in need of guidance, or they see a community in need of repair. Their first instinct is not to look away. Their first instinct is not to hope the government comes along and solves the problem. Their first instinct is to reach out to that elder, be a mentor to that kid or roll up their sleeves to help make their community better. Those Cherokees -- and there are so many of you here at home and across the country -- deserve a government that matches that spirit of ‘gadugi,” the Cherokee word for working together.”

Chief Hoskin also noted that for centuries, the Cherokee culture and national identity has been injured by the pilfering, theft or other dispossession of cultural material, archives, and even the remains of Cherokee ancestors.

“This year we will launch a historic effort to bring home what belongs to us. The Cherokee Nation Repatriation Project will begin a new dialogue with institutions and governments across the country that hold Cherokee cultural patrimony or the remains of our ancestors,” Chief Hoskin said. “Our message will be plain and simple: The days of our culture, heritage, history and ancestral remains being housed in museums, archives and warehouses far from home are over. In the name of our ancestors and for the sake of our descendants, let us bring about a restoration and bring all of this back home where it has always belonged.”

Deputy Principal Chief Bryan Warner speaks during the State of the Nation address, part of the 71st annual Cherokee National Holiday in Tahlequah.

Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Warner will also propose a permanent reauthorization of the Durbin Feeling Language Preservation Act to set up a dedicated path to saving and perpetuating the Cherokee language for decades to come.

On Oct. 10, the Cherokee Nation Language Department will assemble the largest gathering of first-language, fluent Cherokee speakers since prior to Oklahoma statehood during a special event in Tahlequah.

“My fellow Cherokees our Nation is strong. It is strong because it rests upon a foundation of our people and our sovereignty. Our strength is growing because we are investing in those things that build up a great Cherokee society. Today let us celebrate unity and let us celebrate progress. But, for this young Nation, the hour is always late, the tasks are always urgent, the challenges are always real, and the opportunities always abound,” Chief Hoskin said. “And so, we have precious time to celebrate and reflect before we get back to work building this nation even stronger. I am so proud to serve as your Chief, so proud to serve alongside our Deputy Chief and so proud to work with the Council. I stand ready to gather up with all of you to get to work building up this great nation.”

Download the State of the Nation Address

Download B-Roll video