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New legislation proposed to fund Cherokee citizen access to substance abuse treatment, wellness centers

Chief Hoskin said funding these centers gives the tribe the ability to focus on both treatment and prevention.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla — Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner are proposing new legislation that would provide Cherokee citizens with access to substance abuse treatment centers, wellness centers and fitness centers.

Chief Hoskin said, “Like many of our Native brothers and sisters throughout the United States, the Cherokee people have endured generational traumas that, unfortunately, weigh heavy on our families and our communities to this day.”

The “Cherokee Nation Public Health and Wellness Fund Act” will first be considered by the Council of the Cherokee Nation’s Rules Committee on February 25.

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“Providing a consistent funding source specifically set aside for substance abuse treatment and wellness centers for our citizens will be a significant moment in the history of our tribe," said Chief Hoskin. "This legislation will be both life-altering and life-saving for many Cherokees and their friends, families and communities, giving us the ability to not only focus on treatment, but also on prevention."

Cherokee Nation also operates the Jack Brown Center, a 36-bed co-ed facility in Tahlequah that provides help to Native youth with substance abuse issues.

A portion of third-party revenues collected by Cherokee Nation Health Services each year will be set aside to fund the legislation, which if approved, would earmark seven percent of the unrestricted revenue generated by Cherokee Nation Health Services, providing an estimated annual investment of between $9 million and $12 million in funding for public health programs benefitting Cherokee Nation citizens.

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“Our public health and behavioral health teams do a phenomenal job of caring for Cherokee citizens, and they’re consistently on the cutting edge of innovative treatment and prevention,” Deputy Chief Warner said. “Our approach to public health is a model for other tribes around the country, and I believe this new legislation will provide our public health and behavioral health teams with the additional infrastructure they need to take their efforts to new and unprecedented levels."

If passed through committee, the legislation will appear for a vote during the March regular monthly Council meeting.

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For more information on Cherokee Nation's health services, visit health.cherokee.org

Click here if you would like to make a donation to Cherokee Nation.

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