Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Cabinet for Children and Families puts emphasis on our youth and our future

At Cherokee Nation we are focused on promoting the best outcomes for our children and families, so we’ve launched a new initiative, the Cherokee Nation Cabinet for Children and Families. The goal of the cabinet is to provide the best possible services to families and bring Cherokee families to the table to help influence and impact tribal policies. 

Spearheaded by the innovative “HERO Project” which focuses on behavioral and mental health in our youth population, the new cabinet will work with families as we focus on strategies at every level. This includes the macro level that affects an entire community, the mezzo level that applies to neighborhoods and institutions, and the micro level, which deals with individuals and families. With a robust team in place, the Cherokee Nation Cabinet for Children and Families will provide better collaboration on the policies, services and programs that truly impact Cherokee families day in and day out.

Currently, the cabinet is made up of people working in all programs that serve Cherokee youth and Cherokee families.  It includes the majority of the departments our citizens engage with daily. Cherokee Nation departments participating include: Youth Services, the Attorney General’s office, Child Support, Indian Child Welfare, Child Care Programs, Early Childhood Unit, Health Administration, Behavioral Health, Human Services, Marshal Services, Pediatrics, Government Relations, Finance, Education, Commerce, Career Services, Communications and Cultural Outreach.

Our hope is to develop policies that reflect the needs of our families and to ensure sustainability of our services for generations to come. That will positively impact every Cherokee family we serve. As this administration has proven time and time again, the most important goal for the future of the Cherokee Nation is improved access to world-class health care, a safe home and a quality education for our tribal citizens. We have made those issues our priorities as we invest in services and create programs for our people. 

We have a responsibility to address and improve quality of life for our youth.  As we focus on these issues today, we will truly reap the benefits a generation from now, as these kids grow into healthy adults and start their own families. We can and will make a lasting positive effect, which means healthier children and more stable families. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Utilizing new tools to stay connected with at-large Cherokee Nation citizens

Cherokee Nation citizens in at-large communities across Oklahoma and the United States are a vital part of our tribal government and are critical to our success. The Cherokee Nation has more than 330,000 citizens, and almost 205,000 of our enrolled citizenry live outside the tribe’s northeast Oklahoma jurisdiction. It is important we keep all our citizens as informed and up to date as we can.

We recently launched a new website ( ) dedicated exclusively to connecting Cherokee Nation citizens residing beyond the tribe’s 14 counties with information on federal and tribal programs and services. The new site features unique information for Cherokee Nation citizens on home loans and IHS health care options. There are details about higher education scholarships available to any Cherokee no matter where you live.

It’s a good way for Cherokees to interact, participate and remain connected to our government. I believe our bond as Cherokee people can never be broken, whether you live inside or outside the jurisdictional boundaries. It is important that all citizens be informed of what is happening with the Cherokee Nation. We all share similar values, Cherokee values: a commitment to family and community and a respect for preserving our heritage and culture.

Many of our at-large citizens are involved with the nearly two dozen at-large Cherokee community organizations across the country. These groups make up the Cherokee Nation Community Association and are coordinated through the tribe’s Community and Cultural Outreach department. The new website provides vital information on Cherokee community gatherings near you. These are the community groups we visit regularly to share news updates, photo ID cards and voter registration information.

In Oklahoma alone there are more than 90,000 Cherokee Nation citizens who reside outside our 14-county tribal boundary. Through our negotiated state compacts, all Cherokee Nation citizens in Oklahoma are eligible for a Cherokee Nation Hunting and Fishing license and Cherokee vehicle tags. The new website has information on both of these opportunities.

Improving communication at the Cherokee Nation has been a longstanding goal, and it’s the reason we have launched an award-winning television show, “Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People,” which can be streamed online at We also mail an award-winning magazine to all citizens called “Anadisgoi.” Both the show and magazine profile exceptional citizens, current events and stories on Cherokee history and cultural preservation.

The new site is something I have talked about with folks across the country as I travel. There was a need and desire for more information, so we set out to fulfill it.

This administration is devoted to improving our tribe, protecting our families and creating more hope for the Cherokee people.  The strength of the Cherokee Nation has always been its people. Passionate Cherokees are driving us forward and deserve every opportunity to better know and understand the tribe. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Honoring Moms on Mother's Day

As we continue doing our important work for the Cherokee Nation, I want to take a moment and reflect on the important people in my personal life - Sherry Baker, First Lady of the Cherokee Nation, Dr. Isabel Baker, my beloved mother, and my daughters, Lacee, Angie and Brooke.  

Mother’s Day is Sunday and I consider myself blessed to have these inspiring role models for modern women by my side.

As the mother of our children and grandmother of our 10 grandchildren, Sherry has always put family first. I admire her strength and nurturing spirit. She made a commitment to Cherokee people by spearheading our effort to protect women and children through the One Fire Task Force.  She also balances managing a successful small business and doing the things grandmothers do – making healthy meals and helping with homework.

My mother set an incredible example for me. She taught me invaluable lessons of fairness and honesty and she instilled a sense that any goal was achievable through hard work.

I also want to acknowledge what wonderful mothers my children have become before my own eyes. My daughters make me so proud because they have grown up to be such strong women and role models for their own children.

To all of them I say Happy Mother’s Day and I encourage each of you to take the time and recognize your own mother or role model in your life that should be acknowledged with love and respect. As a friend told me recently, ‘A mother’s love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible.’ I believe that.

God bless all our Mothers.