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Area schools benefit from record Cherokee Nation contributions

(L-R): Front row: Cherokee Nation Chief of Staff Corey Bunch, Cherokee Nation Tax Commissioner Mike Doublehead, Cherokee Nation Tax Commissioner Fan Robinson, Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief Bryan Warner, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., Cherokee Nation Treasurer Janees Taylor, Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Tina Glory Jordan, Cherokee Nation Delegate to Congress Kim Teehee, Cherokee Nation Tax Administrator Sharon Swepston, Cherokee Nation Tax Commission Manager Theresa Carder, District 10 Tribal Councilor Melvina Shotpouch. Back row: Deputy Executive Director of Education Aaron Emberton, District 13 Tribal Councilor Joe Deere, District 2 Tribal Councilor Candessa Tehee, District 14 Tribal Councilor Keith Austin, District 11 Tribal Councilor Victoria Vazquez, District 1 Tribal Councilor Rex Jordan, District 5 Tribal Councilor E.O. Smith, Speaker of the Council Mike Shambaugh, District 6 Tribal Councilor Daryl Legg, District 12 Tribal Councilor Dora Patzkowski, District 15 Tribal Councilor Danny Callison and Executive Director of Education Mark Vance.

Monday, April 3, 2023 - The Cherokee Nation is contributing $7.8 million to 109 school districts as part of the tribe’s annual Public School Appreciation Day initiative. This year’s disbursement is the largest since the tribe began its annual contributions in 2002.

Aside from the millions of dollars the Cherokee Nation provides to the state of Oklahoma for education funding each year through gaming, the Cherokee Nation also allocates 38% of its annual car tag revenue directly to education.

“I am incredibly proud of the Cherokee Nation’s longstanding partnerships with school districts in Northeast Oklahoma. These investments in public education each year show that we are all in it together,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “This year, the Cherokee Nation is again setting a record by contributing more than $7.8 million to 109 school districts. This is also the second consecutive year the contribution has eclipsed $7.4 million. In total, our tribe has provided more than $84 million to public education since 2002 through the sale of tribal car tags. This initiative continues to help strengthen and better the educational opportunities for our children across the reservation, and we at the Cherokee Nation know how vitally important that is.”

School superintendents from across Northeast Oklahoma gathered at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino for a luncheon on Tuesday and received their schools’ checks from the tribe.

“It is an honor each year when we are able to gather with school administrators, teachers and everyone who plays vital roles in helping guide our young people while they are in the school system,” Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief Bryan Warner said. “From talking with these educators, I know that their ultimate goal is to light that fire for students and create within them a passion and a desire to succeed. When our tribe contributes this funding each year, we’re helping educators in more than 100 school districts fulfill that mission.”

Each school district makes the decision on how to use the funding provided by the Cherokee Nation. In past years, schools have used the funds to cover teacher salaries, upgrade facilities, support operations, expand technology and bolster school programs. In the last three years, many schools used previous contributions to help respond and recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

In Vian, school leaders used Cherokee Nation funds to implement a cultural class for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

“We make sure that our program touches every kid to make sure that our students learn how important our Cherokee culture and our Cherokee language is,” said Vian Superintendent Victor Salcedo. “We also buy supplies for basket weaving and stickball and have a stickball field for the kids to participate in. We just try to make sure that we subject our kids to the culture that's so important in our Cherokee Nation.”

The money allocated to school districts is based on the number of Cherokee Nation citizens that have enrolled. However, the funding benefits all students in each school district.

“The support of Cherokee citizens and the hard work of our Cherokee Nation Tax Commission staff have once again helped us make a record-breaking contribution,” Cherokee Nation Tax Commission Administrator Sharon Swepston said. “Each year, the tax commission is proud to play a role in helping schools throughout Northeast Oklahoma leave positive and lasting impacts on their students and communities.”

(L-R): Front row: Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief Bryan Warner, 2023 Teacher of the Year Darlene Littledeer, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Speaker of the Council Mike Shambaugh. Back row: LeeAnn Rogers, Whitney Sanders, Meshelle Barnhart, Carolyn Robbins, Shelly Beck, Joy Tatum, Lyndsey Keener, Krysten James, Angela Gleason, Charlotte Trotter, Jimmy Lee Moody, Annie Kimble.

The Cherokee Nation also recognized Darlene Littledeer from Grand View as its first Teacher of the Year. Twelve other educators were honored for displaying traditional Cherokee attributes, including LeAnn Rogers of Colcord, Whitney Sanders of Sand Springs, Meshelle Barnhart of Owasso, Carolyn Robbins of Peggs, Shelly Beck of Warner, Joy Tatum of Woodall, Lyndsey Keener of Locust Grove, Krysten James of Cave Springs, Annie Kimble of Maryetta, Angela Gleason of Belfonte, Charlotte Trotter of Vian and Jimmy Lee Moody of Adair.

The Cherokee attributes are cultural values, qualities or characteristics. These attributes describe Cherokee understanding of leadership necessary to achieve designed purpose. Attributes identified in Cherokee language and thought are: Respectful/Acknowledgement, Determined/Persistent, Integrity, Leader, Communicative, Confident, Cooperative, Responsible, Teach, Patient, Humble, and Strong.

Funding totals by county include the following:

Adair County - $592,974

Cherokee County - $1,037,940

Craig County - $192,740

Delaware County - $568,852

Mayes County - $612,412

Muskogee County - $753,162

Ottawa County - $134,894

Nowata County - $113,817

Rogers County - $793, 677

Sequoyah County - $694,614

Tulsa County - $1,770,025

Wagoner County - $269,555

Washington County - $331,147

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