Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. addressed both chambers of the Oklahoma legislature Wednesday as Cherokee Nation officials visited the capitol.
Cherokee Nation officials have made an annual visit to the capitol for years, but this one comes in the midst of the dispute over gaming compacts with Gov. Kevin Stitt.
Hoskin did not mention the gaming compacts in his addresses to the Senate and House, but he did thank lawmakers for their friendship and respect.
"We’re forging friendships on which leaders of the tribes and leaders of this state can build on for generations to come," Hoskin told state representatives. "These friendships are powerful. These friendships are far more powerful than any challenge that we have, any problem that we have, and they are are more powerful than any disagreement we may have with the state of Oklahoma. The friendships are more powerful than that."
Stitt has been hard pressed to find support from lawmakers for his position that compacts expired at the end of 2019.
Hoskin told senators throughout the Cherokee Nation's history, from their original home in the southeast to their new home after forced removal, they have been in the habit of reaching out to others.
"And if we have the good sense today to follow what our ancestors did and find friends and neighbors and build allies, folks, the best days of the Cherokee Nation are ahead of us, but here’s what else is true: The best days of the great state of Oklahoma are ahead of us," Hoskin said.
Hoskin told the House there’s a reason the tribe contributes to rural communities with things like new roads, economic development assistance and school supplies.
"It’s a lesson that we learned from our ancestors. It’s a lesson that we learned from them before removal and after removal, and a lesson that we are putting forth today. That lesson is simple: For so many ways and for so many reasons, we are all in it together," Hoskin said.