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Cherokee Nation passes largest budget in tribe history

Posted at 5:44 PM, Sep 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-15 18:24:23-04

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation just passed a $3.5 billion budget — the largest in tribe history.

Public safety will be a large part of the budget. Officials said the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service will receive $6 million.

Former Miss Cherokee of 1982 and 1983 Regina Christie said more is needed for a better Cherokee Nation. She said communication and infrastructure improvements are lacking, especially in rural areas.

“I live in a rural area. I have had problems here lately, trying to get ahold of the right person, at the right time," she said.

It’s something the Cherokee Nation Chief and council are working on after passing a $3.5 billion budget on Monday.

“This is a measure of our progress," said Chuck Hoskin Jr. Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

It includes, in part, an anticipated 5,600 tribal government employees, more drug and mental health treatment facilities, and housing development and infrastructure improvements. It's welcome news for Christie.

“I hope some of that money goes to roads," Christie said.

Chief Hoskin Jr. said his main priority is creating a premier criminal justice system, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's McGirt decision that changed how tribe-related criminal cases are handled.

The Cherokee Nation Council also approved on Monday a resolution, 15-1, establishing an agreement with a jail in Texas that will hold those convicted in Cherokee Nation District Court. He said jails in the surrounding area are full.

“Long-term, I think we need to construct our own facility our own jail," Hoskin said.

According to Hoskin, the budget also includes funding for a new, $400 million hospital to replace the existing W.W. Hastings Hospital that’s been in Tahlequah for almost 40 years.

September 15, 2022 renderings of W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah by Childers Architect

He said the hospital was built in 1984 to serve 60,000 patients a year. Nearly 40 years later, it's serving more than 500,000 patients a year.

Hoskin said the new hospital will be six stories and about 400,000 square feet. Currently, the hospital is only 180,000 square feet. Design is underway and is expected to begin this year.

More information about the budget can be found here.

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