The Pryor Times

Opinion

January 12, 2014

Last year’s achievements and goals for the new year

PRYOR, OK — Bill John Baker

Chief of the Cherokee Nation

The beginning of a New Year is always a great time to reflect on our achievements and set new goals for the upcoming months. Last year, hardworking staff of the Nation worked diligently to fulfill the hallmark of our administration: Homes ~ Health ~ Hope.

In 2013, we achieved many dreams for the Cherokee Nation:  

• More than 100 Cherokee families celebrated Christmas in new homes built by our housing department, and every month more Cherokee families are moving into their brand-new homes.

• We made a record $100 million investment to provide better health care for Cherokee citizens. This includes new and expanded clinics, which will make it easier to provide essential health services.

• We increased educational opportunities for Cherokee citizens by investing more funds in academic scholarships than ever before.

• At Cherokee Nation Businesses we saw record-breaking growth as we continue to expand our business portfolio.

• We fully funded the completion of the state-of-the-art Veterans Center at the Cherokee Nation so our military men and women will always have a place of their own at our tribal headquarters.

In 2014, I will continue to focus on what truly makes a difference in Cherokee people’s daily lives.

We will continue our efforts to create new quality jobs. My goal is to eventually arrive at a place where every Cherokee citizen who wants to work in a Cherokee-related job has that opportunity. We will continue to partner with the state and local entities to attract new companies and help others expand. Recently, the Cherokee Nation partnered with the governor’s office and the State Department of Commerce to secure a new Macy’s distribution center in northeast Oklahoma. This effort will create 1,500 new jobs, and many of those will be filled by Cherokee citizens.

Additionally, I want to streamline the citizenship process for our people. Our new tribal photo ID card effort has been highly successful, but we can be better in our methodology to verify and grant citizenship. I pledge to you that we will make the process easier and faster. It should not take years to confirm citizenship.

At the state level, we will continue our productive relationship with the governor’s office. In the past year we signed two new compacts: we were the first tribe to expand car tags statewide, and we signed a new tobacco compact with the state, which our tribal smoke shop owners are happy with. Another dream is for a hunting and fishing compact, where Cherokees can hunt or fish with their blue card as their license. We could be the first tribe in Oklahoma to secure this historic compact.  

A good government makes life better for its people and for future generations. That is what we are striving for at the Cherokee Nation, and that is what we deliver every day. I am proud of what we have done and enthusiastic about what we will accomplish in the upcoming year.

E:mail: chief-baker@cherokee.org

Twitter: @chiefbillbaker

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