Cherokee Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. emphasized his commitment to achieving "complete sovereignty" in his annual State of the Nation address on Saturday.
"Another great test of our nation’s strength has been protecting Cherokee sovereignty, and seizing the opportunities, under the Supreme Court’s McGirt decision," Hoskin said, referring to last year's ruling that found the state of Oklahoma had been illegally prosecuting certain crimes over which Tribal or federal law enforcement had jurisdiction. "The Cherokee Reservation, created by our treaties with the United States, remains exclusively within the jurisdiction of the Cherokee Nation. Let me be clear: My administration will protect the hard-fought gains for our sovereignty under McGirt."
"To the Governor of the State of Oklahoma, let me repeat what I said in 2019: Cherokee Nation is the best friend that the State of Oklahoma ever had, but we must be treated with respect," Hoskin said. "Cherokee Nation remains ready, willing and able to resolve challenges through cooperative agreements. We have proven we can do so on a win-win basis. However, the Governor’s ill-informed insistence that McGirt is a crisis that needs to be solved will be met with the fierce and determined opposition of the Cherokee Nation."
Hoskin said he was referring to more than just sovereignty in matters of criminal law.
"The sovereignty we seek today must be a complete sovereignty," Hoskin said. "One that serves all people and sustains us for the next seven generations. Cherokee sovereignty must be a sovereignty that protects our elders. It must be a sovereignty that creates hope and opportunity for our children. It must be a sovereignty that builds up our communities from the grassroots. From healthcare, to jobs, to education, to protecting our natural resources, Cherokee sovereignty must be one that leaves no one, and no community, behind."
Hoskin cited the Tribe's achievements and goals in areas like education and health care as examples of pursuing a holistic sovereignty.
The address was given as part of Cherokee National Holiday celebrations, which, for the second year in a row, were held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.