Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Cherokee Nation, State Sign Historic Car Tag Compact

Cherokee Nation citizens living in all 77 Oklahoma counties can now buy a Cherokee Nation license plate. With a recently signed compact in place, all Cherokee citizens will soon have the opportunity to display a Cherokee tag on their car or recreational vehicle. The Cherokee Nation is the first tribe to sign a compact with the state of Oklahoma that will offer car tags to its citizens statewide.

This is an historic agreement between the state of Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation, and a testament to our sovereign government-to-government relationship.

Signing historic car tag compact with Governor Mary Fallin. 
Governor Mary Fallin is right when she said, “Local schools, county roads and other important priorities will benefit from this agreement.” Revenues from Cherokee Nation car tags are split between the Cherokee Nation and state and local governments. Nearly 40 cents of every dollar in Cherokee Nation car tag sales goes to public education.

Within the Cherokee Nation’s 14-county jurisdiction, 38 percent of tax revenues from the sale of tribal car tags is distributed to about 90 public school districts each year. In April, we awarded those schools $3.2 million. The new compact will do the same for even more districts that border the Cherokee Nation, but are technically outside our jurisdiction. Schools in Wagoner, Tulsa, Muskogee, Rogers and Mayes counties all stand to benefit in the same way as neighboring schools.

Outside the 14-county jurisdiction, revenue from the sale of vehicle tags will be distributed to schools and local and county governments in the same manner as state tags.

At-large Cherokee citizens residing in Wagoner, Tulsa, Muskogee, Rogers and Mayes counties will be able to purchase a tribal car tag by the end of the year.  Statewide car tag sales start in June 2014, and can be purchased from any of the five Cherokee Nation tag offices.

Like our tribal photo ID cards, the car tags are a source of Cherokee pride. But the benefits are deeply felt across the Cherokee Nation. So far this fiscal year, more than 100,000 vehicle tags have been issued. Through our partnerships, we are strengthening our sovereignty, creating more jobs, lowering the costs of car tags for thousands of Cherokees and providing even more resources to public schools for our children.

The Cherokee people are the heart of everything we do, and I made a commitment to do more for them, regardless of where they live in Oklahoma. Cherokees living outside of our jurisdictional boundaries have asked for tribal license plates for years, and we are finally able to make good on those wishes. It’s another goal we have achieved for the Cherokee people.

The new compact was successfully negotiated with the governor’s office by Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree. I thank him for leading the way for us in these complicated issues. The Cherokee Nation is stronger today for the work he has done in creating a compact that will benefit not just Cherokees, but all Oklahomans in the coming years. The Cherokee Nation values our government-to-government relationship with the state of Oklahoma, and contributes in other ways as well. We also hold gaming, tobacco and intergovernmental compacts with the governor’s office. 

In addition to this latest compact, we’ve expanded health care and housing programs, pumped record amounts into college scholarship programs and created new ways to help our elders.

We are building a stronger Cherokee Nation, and our car tag program allows us the capacity to keep doing more for our people, and for the people of our great state.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Vinita Community Mtg Last Night

Enjoyed seeing a lot of old friends and catching up with Cherokee Nation citizens at the community meeting held last night at the Vinita Cherokee Health Clinic. We had a great crowd and we updated citizens on programs and efforts at Cherokee Nation.  

Friday, August 2, 2013

New Spider Gallery Now Open

Cutting the Ribbon on Cherokee Nation's
new art center - the Spider Gallery 
The newly expanded and more visible Cherokee Arts Center “Spider Gallery” is officially open in downtown Tahlequah.

“This new space gives the Cherokee Nation an opportunity to showcase our fabulous artists’ work,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “It’s not only a place to display it, but a place to sell it, a place for us to help advertise it around the world, a place for us to help Native American artists carry on our culture, our history, our art and the story of the Cherokee people.”

The Spider Gallery, formerly located on Water Street, has made its new home in downtown Tahlequah inside the revitalized Cort Mall. There, more than 50 Cherokee artists from eight area counties, as well as Alabama, New Mexico and Texas, have art on display. It ranges from traditional pottery, jewelry and paintings to contemporary assemblage sculptures, with costs ranging from $10 to $12,000.

The name of the gallery is taken from traditional Cherokee folklore.

“It’s a reference to the Cherokee legend of the water spider that brought the fire, light and warmth to the dark and cold side of the earth,” said Callie Chunestudy, Arts Center cultural specialist. “Like the water spider, we aim to bring illumination through art by fostering and celebrating the talent and ingenuity of the Cherokee people.”