Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker delivered the annual State of the Nation address to the tribe Saturday as thousands turned out in Tahlequah for the three-day Cherokee National Holiday.
Baker touted his administration's success during the past four years, and said he promised to make healthcare a priority when he took office in 2011.
“I delivered on that promise by investing $100 million of casino profits to better the healthcare and the lives of the Cherokee people,” Baker said.
He announced an addition is planned at W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, and a partnership with Oklahoma State University to recruit, train, and hire doctors who are Cherokee. Baker said the Cherokee Nation was one of only seven tribes in the United States to be awarded a joint venture from the Indian Health Service.
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“That partnership allows us to make vast improvements and additions to the W.W. Hastings hospital,” Baker said. “When completed, this addition will be almost 470,000 square feet of new space, more than tripling the size of our present facility.”
Baker also said the tribe has a new health center in Ochelata and one planned in Jay. He also announced plans to send a nominee for the office of Secretary of Natural Resources, according to the Tulsa World’s Sheila Stogsdill:
The cabinet position was formed in 1999 but has never been filled, he said.
Baker did not mention the name of his nominee during the speech.
“We aren’t only stewards of these resources today, but we have an obligation to protect them for the next seven generations of Cherokees,” Baker said. “The Cherokee people deserve clean drinking water that is plentiful, fresh air that is abundant and a healthy environment to live, work and play.”
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