CHEROKEE COUNTY, OKLAHOMA, Okla. — On Saturday (Sept. 4), Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. gave the 69th Cherokee National Holiday State of the Nation address virtually.
The Tribe’s elected leaders highlighted Cherokee Nation's recent accomplishments, present priorities and future goals in the annual State of the Nation address.
A Sept. 6 Cherokee Nation press release said Chief Hoskin unveiled plans to construct a new hospital that will replace the W.W. Hastings Hospital facility after a “decade of dramatic expansion of the Cherokee Nation health system.”
“Let us build a new hospital to replace W.W. Hastings, using the latest in hospital design so that our people have access to the best health care possible,” Hoskin said. “Let us repurpose the existing Hastings facility to be the heart of our expanded behavioral health programs."
Chief Hoskin also called for historic investments that would allow the Tribe to build a comprehensive behavioral health system that meets the needs of the Cherokee people.
According to the release, the Tribe took a “monumental stride” to address the issue earlier in 2021 with the Public Health and Wellness Act, which is expected to bring between $9 million and $12 million into wellness initiatives for Cherokee citizens.
“But, we must do more,” Chief Hoskin said. “Mental illness, addiction and other behavioral health challenges are robbing our fellow Cherokees of their lives and collectively robbing us of the future we deserve. So, let us begin building a comprehensive behavioral health system, which includes addiction treatment, that meets the needs of Cherokee people. Let us work to erase the line between mental health and physical health and recognize that our goal is simply wellness for every Cherokee.”
Chief Hoskin also focused on the tribe’s efforts to protect Cherokee sovereignty and to seize opportunities provided through the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt decision.
“The Cherokee Reservation, created by our treaties with the United States, remains exclusively within the jurisdiction of the Cherokee Nation,” said Hoskins.
The Cherokee Nation says that it is meeting its responsibilities under McGirt and will continue to do so, including building up the Cherokee judicial system.
“To the governor of the state of Oklahoma, let me repeat what I said in 2019: Cherokee Nation is the best friend that the state of Oklahoma ever had, but we must be treated with respect. Cherokee Nation remains ready, willing and able to resolve challenges through cooperative agreements,” said Chief Hoskins. “We have proven we can do so on a win-win basis. However, the governor’s ill-informed insistence that McGirt is a crisis that needs to be solved will be met with the fierce and determined opposition of the Cherokee Nation.”
Chief Hoskin said the tribe must seek sovereignty that serves all people and sustains us for the next seven generations.
“Protecting elders, creating hope for children, building up communities, closing gaps in broadband Internet access, improving water systems, supporting job growth, investing in education and protecting natural resources are at the core of that idea,” said Hoskin.