- Increase the number and size of scholarships available to At-Large Citizens.
- Increase the availability of scholarships to At-Large Citizens outside of Oklahoma.
- Work with other state governments to introduce license plates for Cherokee Citizens within those states, the proceeds for which will go to fund scholarships for Cherokee citizens who reside within those states.
- Increase the prevalence of Cherokee language courses at academic institutions outside of Oklahoma.
- Create educational partnerships with Indian Education Programs (Title VII) to participate in offering cultural opportunities to Native American students.
Where I Stand
Education and hard work go hand-in-hand. Education is unique in that its pursuit offers us the opportunity to both better ourselves and to become better prepared to serve our people. My family has always taken education very seriously and we have pursued it diligently, just as the leaders of our people who have gone before us have made it possible for us to avail ourselves of the kinds of educational opportunities that lead to a promising future.
Until recently, there were very limited opportunities to support our very large population of At-Large citizens with scholarship funding. Many years ago, I contacted then representative Dr. Julia Coates, as well as (at that time) Principal Chief Bill John Baker with an idea about partnering with the State of Oklahoma to make Cherokee Nation license plates available to Cherokee Citizens residing within the state of Oklahoma, using the proceeds generated from the sale of those license plates to fund scholarships for At-Large citizens. For certain, I was not the only person to have had such an idea and I applaud the councilors and leaders who supported those changes.
I think that with some diligence and hard work, we can do more.
Our At-Large population is very large, comprising about 249,000 of our 380,000 tribal enrollment. I hope to work with other councilors and the current administration to build another link in this chain that was well-started so many years ago. By investigating similar compacts with other states, we can make it possible for Cherokee Citizens living outside of the State of Oklahoma to both have access to Cherokee License Plates, and to fund scholarships for Cherokee Citizens within their state through the purchase of those specialty plates.
Wait, there’s more…
For the brief period of time that I was fortunate enough to work within the Title VII program for Lincoln Public Schools in Lincoln, Nebraska under Dr. Josh Cramer, and Dr. Deilah Steiner, I was fortunate enough to be able to host cultural events for our school district with the support of the Cherokee Nation, who sent cultural mentors to lead us in stickball games and other activities. At the time, members of the faculty of the University of Nebraska were willing to support my efforts to offer after school programs for students and their families who wanted to learn more about their indigienous languages. Through partnerships with local tribes, we were able to offer courses in Lakota and Ponca/Omaha.
The Cherokee Nation has done a fantastic job of making virtual language courses available to our citizens wherever we may live. We can take another step and forge another link by working with school districts across the country to support their Title VII programs in ways that connect Cherokee Citizens with Cherokee culture.
Some, if not all, of these pursuits will be difficult, for sure. With your help, we can forge another strong link in a chain that was begun long before us and will continue long after we’re gone.