State of the Nation Address…by Chief Bill Baker of the Cherokee Nation of Tahlequah, OK.
O Si Yo Brother & Sisters, Aunts & Uncles, & Grandmothers and Grandfathers of the Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah OK, Cherokee NC, and Everywhere You All May Be.
This is makes me so proud of my heritage, Scottish Irish Cherokee. Although I am Eastern Band Cherokee, Cherokee, North Carolina, 1790 Cherokee Registrar, We Are One, as No Cherokee sees it any differently. We are Cherokee. We Survived the most heinous act by a man hailed as a True American Hero, but he was far from that at all, not even close. When President Andrew Jackson gave to Hostile order of the Georgia Removal Act in the early to mid 1800’s, it was brutal, inhumane, and a devastation to the Cherokee People. The very People known as the First Five Civilized Tribes. We conducted ourselves in every aspect and manners of the European Settlers who in turn stole our lands, our lives. However well advanced, the white man did not like that. The one thing they wanted, to convert us to they, their ways, all things White European, and thus we accustomed ourselves and became what we believe, a very threat, in which we weren’t. We became business men, we dressed the part, we became plantation owners, yes, plantation owners and owners of Slaves that we treated like family unlike that of the White man way. We built schools and educated our children, we adapted like a Crow in every part of the World. Sequoyah (George Guess,) an illiterate, could not read nor write, in his genius, invented the Cherokee (Tsalagi) Alphabet and thus taught our people how to read and write in our very own language thus introducing the first Cherokee Newspaper of its kind, anywhere, everywhere, The Phoenix. We were honorable, noble, trustworthy, kind loving Humans, but that wasn’t good enough for President Andrew Jackson, a man hailed a hero. He is far a disgrace to me, but I am forgiving and I do recognize the greatness in his accomplishments, just not pertaining to my ancestors.
However the case may be, in the dead of winter, with rifles pointed in our faces, we were forced out of home, taken with us none of our belongings let along clothing, items to keep warm, food, the necessities to travel a distance unknown to us. Frightened and Distraught, we hadn’t a choice, refuse or be killed. So on our way we walked, walked in Snow, Fierce Winter Blizzards, No Clothing for warmth, no foods, no medicine, nothing but our minds bodies and souls, a people together on The Trail of Tears. Over 4000 perished on that 865 Mile trek to Indian Territory. The best advantage we Cherokee’s had going for us was, that by the time the 1700’s came to light, us Cherokee were already inter0racially mixed blood with the Scottish, Irish and German. By the time of the Georgia Removal by the Coward himself, Andrew Jackson, we were so white in appearance, no one person could tell if we were white or Cherokee. That’s where greatness came forth. Many, many, so many, the numbers cannot ever be counted, a forever unknown for an eternity. That being mixed blood, us Cherokee found means of vanishing, escaping the Trail of Tears and moving out of sight to the north, the south, back to the east, and to the west. Fortunate were the Cherokee north of Georgia in North Carolina, Cherokee Carolina where we still Thrive there today as we did yesterday, they stayed and hid, took shelter in Caves. But for the Tahlequah Cherokee’s, they had a more than tough journey. Losing more than 4000 Cherokee on the Trail of Tears, the extermination of our race, heritage, culture, the Cherokee, we won. We didn’t perish as a whole, and we embrace and celebrate our ancestors we lost along the way. For through their spirits, we lived, we grew, we regrouped, we re constituted our Government, our people together, the Cherokee, The Real People, The Real Humans. I am proud of my heritage and ancestors. And the very fact that the Scottish and Irish faced the same attempt at termination of a race, a culture, a heritage and tradition by the English, by the Vikings, and so on and so on, we aren’t any different at all. Scottish, Irish and Cherokee faced the very same life challenges, live or to be killed, and all three thrive today and will for an eternity. I bow my head as I pray to my ancestors on that Trail, the Trail of Tears, but today, I smile, and not shed tears, for I am most grateful. Thanks to Great Chief as Bill Baker and his predecessors, we will continue to grow stronger each and every day and thrive together as a Nation, under God, as a People Together and always and forever remain The Real Humans, The Cherokee. Please, enjoy this article From Bill Baker, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Dohiya
Principal Chief Bill John Baker gives the annual State of the Nation address on Aug. 30 at the Cherokee Courthouse lawn in Tahlequah, Okla., with a key message that 175 years after Cherokees walked the Trail of Tears, the Cherokee Nation is thriving. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Chief says CN thriving, not just surviving!!!
BY WILL CHAVEZ
09/03/2014 09:02 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Principal Chief Bill John Baker gave the annual State of the Nation address on Aug. 30 at the Cherokee Courthouse lawn with a key message that 175 years after Cherokees walked the Trail of Tears, the Cherokee Nation is not just surviving in northeastern Oklahoma but thriving.
Baker said the red brick courthouse is a symbol of the strong spirit living within the CN because people who had just experienced one of the worst tragedies in American history built it.
“It was 175 years ago, we arrived here in eastern Oklahoma and began our greatest chapter – building the largest, most advanced tribal government in the United States,” he said. “Our ancestors were pulled from their homes in the east, forced into stockades and marched here to Indian Territory by a federal government that tried to brutally extinguish us. But in 1839, right here in Tahlequah, we reconstituted our government and we rebuilt our schools. We rebuilt our courts and recreated the commercial success we had in the southeast.”
Baker thanked Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, members of his Cabinet and the Tribal Council for working for the Cherokee people and for helping place the CN on a strong footing.
“And we commend all our employees at the Cherokee Nation and say to each and every one of you, wado. We could not have done it without you,” he said.
We believed the purpose of a good government, a strong government and a fair government is to make life better for its citizens.
– Principal Chief Bill John Baker
Baker also highlighted the investments the CN is making to benefit the Cherokee people such as building new homes, expanding health centers and services and creating jobs.
“As principal chief, my goal is a simple one: make the lives of Cherokees better, and do it every day. Every decision is based on that goal. That is the definitive mission,” he said. “We believed the purpose of a good government, a strong government and a fair government is to make life better for its citizens. And we are succeeding.”
More homes, better health care and increased hope through education and jobs are a result of the tribe’s investments in its people, he added. One of the highlights of that investment is the number of Cherokees the CN is employing in its government and businesses.
“We employ more than 9,000 people in northeast Oklahoma, and more than 80 percent of them are Cherokee, compared to less than 70 percent three years ago,” he said. “That’s more than 1,200 (who) are Cherokees working for their tribe. That’s more Cherokees taking home paychecks to their families, and 1,200 more Cherokees who know their tribe is here for them.”
All of the tribe’s successes have a $1.3 billion dollar economic impact on Oklahoma, he said.
“As the largest employer in the 14 counties, we are the engine that is driving this economy,” Baker said. “Across the 14 counties, we’ve rebuilt roads and torn down crumbling bridges, rebuilding them from the ground up.”
He provided examples of the tribe’s work in communities such as expanding waterlines in Nowata to provide safe drinking water, building a water tower in West Siloam Springs and completing water sanitation projects in Oaks and Locust Grove. The CN also continues to give annual cash donations to volunteer fire departments in the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction.
“These investments help better people’s lives. The Cherokee Nation has proven time and time again to be the critical piece in what drives prosperous communities,” he said.
About a year ago, Baker announced a plan to overhaul the CN’s health system. Four health centers in Ochelata, Stilwell, Sallisaw and Jay are under construction or are finished. Also, the CN has budgeted more than $60 million for a new hospital in Tahlequah.
“Our casinos have grown to be very profitable. So we called for $100 million dollars from our casinos to be use for new health facilities for our people,” he said. “Having profitable casinos is wonderful, but it is useless if it doesn’t benefit our people in the ways they need it most, like health care.”
Baker said he believes the tribe’s ancestors would be proud of the progress being made and where the tribe is headed.
“It was 175 years ago that hope carried our people through unimaginable hardship,” he said. “Our ancestors would be proud of where we have been, the progress we are making today and where we are going. We owe it to them to continue and protect that sacred legacy.”
Michael Red Crow Mulholland ~ Cherokee Trail ~ Sacred Pipe Music ~ Publishing & Licensing ~ Sector 7 Studio Productions ~ Photography ~ © 2014