TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council approved two pieces of legislation during a meeting Tuesday, one involving language preservation.
After nudging it along during a Rules Committee meeting last month, the council OK'd the Durbin Feeling Language Preservation Act. The legislation produces the tribe's large investment in language in its history, with $16 million going toward language preservation.
"That represents, as you know Mr. Speaker [Joe Byrd], a $16 million investment in our language, some of which is dollars that will continue on in future years for operations," said Principal Chuck Hoskin Jr. as he addressed the council. "And it will do what I think all of us are committed to doing, which is to save the Cherokee language."
The act creates a secretary of language, culture and community cabinet-level position under the CN administration. The former Cherokee Casino Tahlequah building will transfer from Cherokee Nation Businesses to Cherokee Nation for a new language center. And $5 million will go into renovation for the language center, while another $1.5 million per year will go to various language programs for five years.
The council also gave the nod to the Career Readiness Act, which will double the funding for career-tech training within the tribe. About $2 million will go toward training Cherokees in the areas of construction, health, IT, and lineman trade jobs.
"We fund every college student with a scholarship, those that are eligible, but we need to do more on career readiness - career training in a number of different trades and technical positions, health care positions," said Hoskin. "So this will help us do this, and I intend to sign this legislation tomorrow at an event in Pryor."
A slate of Cherokees were confirmed as appointees or reappointees to various boards and committees. Carrie Philpott and Farrell Prater were appointed as members of the CN Registration Committee.
Valerie Rogers was reappointed to as a board member of the Comprehensive Care Agency (PACE), while Brandi Payton was also appointed to the board. Wayne Caldwell was tapped as a board member of Cherokee Health Partners, while Brian Hail, Ricky Kelly, Dr. Roger Montgomery, Ami Sams, and Dr. Stephen Jones were all reappointed.
The council approved two resolutions confirming support for two officials who plan on running for positions in the National Congress of American Indians.
Byrd will run as a candidate for the NCAI vice president and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner will vie for the NCAI's Oklahoma Regional vice president seat.
During his state of the nation address, Hoskin said the tribe recently attended the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes, during which a resolution was passed supporting the Cherokee Nation's assertion of its treaty right to appoint a delegate to Congress.
"I think it's important that everyone know that we're getting support from other tribes in our effort to assert that important treaty right," he said.