Archive for the ‘Chief Chad Smith’ Category

Podcast: enate Recognizes Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith at State Capitol

April 7, 2008

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A day after Cherokee Principle Chief Chad Smith was gaveled down during a House committee hearing on legislation to make English the “official” language of Oklahoma, The Oklahoma State Senate recognized Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith and his wife Bobbi on Thursday with a standing ovation. Smith, along with several other members of the Cherokee Nation were there as part of the 8th annual Cherokee Nation Legislative Day at the State Capitol.

Sen. Jim Wilson, D-Tahlequah, introduced Smith and credited him and the Cherokee Nation for partnering with the state on a variety of projects including education, healthcare and transportation.

The Cherokee Nation is the largest employer in the northeastern part of the state with over 6,000 employees. They have partnered with the state and other counties on projects that are helping to improve the lives of all Oklahomans. Chief Smith and the rest of the Cherokee Nation leadership should be congratulated for their accomplishments and continued hard work.

The Cherokee Nation is the second largest tribe in the United States and the largest tribe in Oklahoma with over 160,000 tribal members living in the state. The tribe has annual expenditures in excess of $450 million.

Wilson said the Cherokee Nation has continued to make contributions through its partnerships with the state. A portion of the Cherokee Nation’s gaming revenue goes to the state to help fund educational and compulsive gambling programs. In 2007, Oklahoma received $11.5 million in gaming proceeds from the tribe. Wilson added that in 2006, the Cherokee Nation partnered with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to repair eight bridges in six counties throughout northeastern Oklahoma.

Smith told the Senate that education plays a key role in the success of the Cherokee Nation. He said Sequoyah High School in Tahlequah is home to 12 Gates Scholars and offers college prep courses as well as concurrent enrollment with Northeastern Oklahoma State University. In 2006, Sequoyah students earned more than $500,000 in scholarships. Since 2002, the tribe has funded over 10,000 scholarships.

In 2007, the Cherokee Nation donated $1.5 million to the University Of Oklahoma College Of Medicine to help address cancer and diabetes. It currently has four health care facilities under construction located in Muskogee, Sequoyah, Nowata and Cherokee Counties, representing a $35.5 million commitment to the people and local economies. Smith:

We believe in coming together and working together for the benefit of our communities. That’s why we have developed partnerships with our counties and cities in the state. We now serve 126,000 Indians with healthcare. We have helped build with county commissioners 500 miles of roads in rural areas and we have helped with education, healthcare and social services.

Wilson added that in addition to the Cherokee Nation’s financial commitment to the state of Oklahoma, “The tribe has made innumerable contributions to the state’s culture, heritage and pride. Oklahoma is identified nationwide as Native America. That wouldn’t be possible without the contributions of the Cherokee Nation.

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Podcasts: Sen. Coates Shocked and Saddened After Cherokee Principal Chief Silenced

April 3, 2008

Click here to listen to Senator Harry Coates

Click here to listen to Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation Chad Smith

State Sen. Harry Coates (R-Seminole) said he was appalled that Chad Smith, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, was “gaveled down” during a House committee hearing on legislation to make English the “official” language of Oklahoma.

The Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation was not allowed to share his concerns about the legislation and was treated badly. I believe he should have been given the courtesy of expressing his views in what is supposed to be the people’s house.

Smith said he found it very odd that he was not allowed to speak, but that public input was allowed later in that same committee on another bill. He also said he was offended that the measure’s author, Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore, was attempting to use the “awesome power” of the State of Oklahoma to forcibly assimilate people. Smith continued:

We’ve been trying to resist forced assimilation for centuries. It’s probably one of the most patronizing and paternalistic insults that I’ve ever heard…

Coates pointed to the tremendous contribution of the Native American Code-Talkers whose ability to pass on sensitive information in tribal languages aided the effort by the allies to win World War II.

Coates said despite exemptions in the bill for languages of the 39 federally recognized tribes in Oklahoma, he’s also heard from other tribal members and leaders who oppose this legislation as divisive and discriminatory. Coates:

They remember all too well a time when Native Americans were targeted by English-only school policies that were part of an effort to destroy their culture and way of life. There are many stories of Indian children who were literally beaten as punishment for not speaking English.

Coates said he had no doubt the bill has its supporters.

I’m sure hate groups like the KKK applaud the actions taken today. Are these the people we really want to pander to?

The amended bill will now go before the full House of Representatives.

I’m certain SB 163 will pass in the House, and then it will come straight back to the Senate Floor for a final vote. But before that happens, I hope that people will think about the serious ramifications this will have for Oklahoma, putting us in an even more negative light world-wide and promoting greater discrimination against all minorities.

Smith concluded the interview by saying:

…What this has become is a badge and a brand of intolerance, mean-spiritedness, close-mindedness, cold-heartedness.