Today, more than 63 percent of our nearly 380,000 tribal citizens reside outside Cherokee Nation’s legal jurisdiction. One thing we’ve heard loud and clear: Our at-large Cherokees want to be involved with their tribe. To better engage the perspectives of our at-large citizens, Cherokee Nation has established the At-Large Cherokee Advisory Committee.

When I served as secretary of state, one of my greatest joys was visiting our Cherokee communities and hearing input from our citizens across Oklahoma and throughout the country. And today as Principal Chief, I remain committed to enhancing civic and cultural engagement between the Cherokee Nation and our at-large Cherokee Nation citizens.

The new advisory committee will be an integral part of this administration’s efforts to include the voices of the at-large community and ensure their needs and perspectives are considered in future policy initiatives of the Cherokee Nation. We intend to support community organization among all our tribal citizens, no matter where their zip code lies.

Toward that end, the new committee will work to expand cultural enrichment activities for at-large Cherokee communities. It will also enhance the various ways Cherokee Nation interacts with its at-large citizens and their community leaders.

The advisory committee’s objectives are:

· to engage with the at-large citizens and satellite community organizations.

· to explore community-based policy priorities.

· to identify gaps in the delivery of available support and outreach to at-large tribal citizens and satellite community organizations.

· to identify opportunities to promote language preservation, cultural enrichment, civic activities and community fellowship.

We will build on the grant program we established last year so that at-large organizations have more fiscal resources to build capacity, strength and a stronger sense of self-determination. The committee will also identify at-large Cherokee Nation citizens who demonstrate leadership in maintaining cultural integrity and promoting tribal values, civic engagement, volunteerism or business acumen.

The formation of this new committee ushers in many new opportunities for our at-large communities to have a more direct dialogue with both my office and the Cherokee Nation’s Community and Cultural Outreach department.

Organizing within our Cherokee communities, wherever they may be, is the right thing to do. All of our citizens deserve an equal voice. It is something I strongly believe in, and I am excited to continue to build upon this effort as your Chief.

Chuck Hoskin Jr. is the Principle Chief of the Cherokee Nation.