In spite of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Council of the Cherokee Nation has approved an historic $1.52 billion budget for the 2021 fiscal year — the Tribe’s largest budget yet.
That’s a substantial increase over 2020’s $1.16 billion budget.
The new budget allotts money to award more Cherokees with college scholarships, add more energy-efficient buildings in Tribal communities, and revitalize the Cherokee language.
The same day, the Tribe passed legislation designed to address the opportunities and challenges created by the United States Supreme Court’s recent decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma.
Known as the Cherokee Nation Reservation, Judicial Expansion and Sovereignty Protection Act, the legislation serves to “secure the sovereignty of the Cherokee Nation and its land, as affirmed by the court decision, while protecting the health and welfare of Cherokee citizens and neighbors throughout Oklahoma.”
The passage of the act authorizes the expansion of Cherokee Nation’s judiciary, prosecution staff and marshal service to ensure adequate court, prosecution and law enforcement capacity, incarceration and rehabilitation services, as well as other important resources. It will allow key Cherokee Nation agencies to enter into agreements, evaluate resources, and for courts to appoint referees who meet the Constitutional and statutory requirements for appointment. It also allows the Cherokee Nation to go after grants or federal funding for adequate staffing and resources.
“With today’s passage of the Cherokee Nation Reservation, Judicial Expansion and Sovereignty Protection Act, the Tribal Council has made clear that the Cherokee Nation is committed to affirming our sovereignty while taking the necessary steps to expand our capacity and resources in the wake of the McGirt decision,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.
On August 13, Chief Hoskin established the Commission for the Protection of Cherokee Nation Sovereignty. Alongside the Act, the commission will make recommendations and examine related areas on how the Cherokee Nation can best respond to the McGirt decision.
“Alongside the recently established sovereignty commission, today’s action will enable us to ensure our law enforcement and public safety systems can continue to function effectively as we respond to this historic Supreme Court victory for Indian Country,” Hoskin said.
The legislation passed unanimously.
“The Cherokee Nation is committed to fighting for our rights and our sovereignty, and with this act we can continue to do so while ensuring our communities have the resources and capacity they need,” said District 9 Tribal Councilor Mike Shambaugh. “I look forward to working with my fellow Council members, Chief Hoskin, and all of the Cherokee Nation to continue to address the challenges presented by the court decision and fight for the best outcomes for our people.”