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Cherokee Nation Makes Record Contribution on Annual Public School Appreciation Day

Cherokee Nation

In the midst of a dispute over gaming compacts with Gov. Kevin Stitt, Cherokee Nation made its largest-ever disbursement of car tag revenue Thursday to area public school districts.

In all, 108 districts got a total of $6 million. Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said that’s in addition to funding that goes toward public education statewide through gaming exclusivity fees.

"This is another reminder that Cherokee Nation is here for our communities and public education not just this year, but year in and year out, and we’re committed to that. And I think it’s something that I hope Oklahomans across the state think about and reflect upon as we go forward in this disagreement with the governor," Hoskin said.

The tribe dedicates 38% of its car tag revenue to education. Funds are awarded to schools based on the number of Cherokee students they have, but there are no strings attached to the funding.

Webbers Falls got more than $23,000, and Superintendent Dixie Swearinger said it will go toward making their half-time counselor a full-time one.

"We need someone there full-time, and our younger kids are experiencing more trauma nowadays than they have in the past. And so, we need someone there that has a heart and can guide those students through their emotions," Swearinger said.

Tulsa County districts got a total of $1.3 million. Tulsa Public Schools got more than $219,000, which it will put toward its Indian Education program.

Cherokee Nation's first disbursement of car tag funds to area school districts came in 2002, when the tribe awarded $1.3 million. To date, they've awarded $62.3 million.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.