Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. rebuked the storming of the U.S. Capitol during a Tribal Council meeting Monday night.

"It's a very unsettling time, I think, for all of us anywhere in America," said Hoskin during his State of the Nation address. "Last week, there was an insurrection in this country, and we ought to say it - and we ought to say it loudly - [that] we oppose it. I certainly do and I hope the country stands strong against that. I think every American ought to find an opportunity to find some unity and rally around the things we can rally around during these difficult times."

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Sequoyah's inventing the Cherokee syllabary. Hoskin said the tribe will be planning a number of events to commemorate his accomplishments.

"When he invented the syllabary in the 19th century, it sparked a revolution across our people - a revolution of thought, a revolution of communications - and it still is with us today," said Hoskin.

The Cherokee Nation recently extended its hunting and fishing compact with the state of Oklahoma for one year. The tribe issues its own free hunting and fishing licenses to Cherokee citizens living in Oklahoma under the compact. This opens the door to more than $7 million in projected federal funding for the state's wildlife department.

"I'm hopeful that as time goes by this year, we will find the governor willing to engage in either a longer compact, or at some point, we decide whether compacting is in the best interest of the Cherokee Nation," said Hoskin. "I firmly believe at this point in time that it is, and certainly extending the compact extends that win-win relationship established by the compact some years ago."

The chief also discussed the impact COVID-19 has had on the tribe, as the Cherokee Nation Health Services has had more than 12,000 cases in its system. Hoskin said the numbers are going up rapidly.

"Our system is feeling the stress, as all health systems are feeling across the country," he said. "But it has also come at a great cost, beyond hospitalization. We know we've lost people. We've lost loved ones. We've had 67 deaths just in our system, and if you look across the reservation, we've lost 30 fluent Cherokee speakers to COVID. "

Among new business, the Tribal Council approved a resolution supporting the nomination of Deb Haaland for Secretary of the Department of the Interior. The council also confirmed the appointments of Amy Page as district judge of the Cherokee Nation, and Rex Earl Starr as a Supreme Court justice of the Cherokee Nation.

Matt Anderson was confirmed as a member of the Cherokee National Historical Society's Board of Directors.

The Ketcher-Deason Act of 2020 was passed to provide a memorial to families of Cherokee Nation employees whose deaths have resulted from COVID-19. The Act is named after Karen Ketcher and Faye Deason, both employees of the tribe.

The Wilma P. Mankiller Victim's Rights Act was passed, with the purpose of providing a of method for compensation and assisting those people within the Nation who are victims of criminal acts, and who suffer physical or psychological injury or death.

What's next

The next Cherokee Nation Tribal Council meeting is Feb. 15 at 5 p.m., in the tribal headquarters, W.W. Keeler Complex. All meetings of the council can be viewed on the Cherokee Nation Youtube page.

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