Cherokee Nation Money Funding Partisan Political Interests
Updated: May 2, 2020
The hustle and bustle of the Cherokee Nation campaign season bring along with it a litany of surprises, sometimes good and sometimes not so good. The flood of questions into each candidate and their respective campaigns about policy, goal setting, and vision for the Cherokee Nation have brought into question some of the practices of the current Cherokee administration lead by Bill John Baker and Chuck Hoskin, Jr. These questions range from the Nation’s impact on health outcomes to the effectiveness of Cherokee housing programs to outcomes for scholarship programs. With life expectancy dropping radically in parts of the nation, many elders and families living in poverty, and at-large Cherokee students receiving low scholarship funding, the natural progression of these questions is to ask, if the Cherokee Nation is claiming success in economic development, and more resources coming in, why are Cherokee citizens continuing to suffer?
This is a nuanced question without a cookie cutter answer. There can be a variety of causes for government failure, but in a system of governance with increasingly centralized power, the responsibility ultimately falls on those at the top. In this case, Bill John Baker, Chuck Hoskin, Sr. and Chuck Hoskin, Jr.
In the last eight years under the Baker administration, there has been a consistent decrease in quality of life and cultural identity for Cherokees and an increase in wasteful spending on politicians and benefits paid to the chief’s friends and family members. Under the direction of Baker and Hoskin, $2.5 million has been spent by the Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses on political candidates and campaigns across the country, the vast majority of whom were extremely liberal Democrats – over $350,000 just to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. (source www.fec.gov)
And that is not all. Even the Cherokee Phoenix reported that transparency requests for the amount spent by the Baker/Hoskin Administration on a Democrat National Convention party venue that Baker described as an “oasis” gathering spot for Hoskin/Baker’s Democrat and elite political friends were denied. The Cherokee Phoenix reported in an article dated December 12, 2016, that in the CNB contract with the Democrat National Convention, “amounts for the agreement were redacted.” (Source for “oasis” hospitality venue paid for by Cherokee Nation for Democrat and political elites: https://www.indianz.com/…/indian-country-makes-presence-kno…)
During that same period, Baker hired his brother, Tim Baker, for an administrative position at a heavily inflated salary of $280,000 with a bonus, a tribal vehicle, and additional benefits totaling in excess of $500,000 a year, according to heavily distributed reports. It is also reported that the first Baker family hire led to a series of others including high paying Cherokee Nation jobs given to some 11 members of Baker’s family.
The combined total of just the wasteful political spending could have easily paid for hundreds of thousands of meals for elders, thousands of scholarships for Cherokee students, expanded development of Cherokee language programs, and much more.
Election season gives us the exciting opportunity to explore the vision of each candidate and their policies that could positively impact our lives and the lives of those around us. The downside, often for those at the top, is that exploration often shines a light on the inefficiencies, corruption, and dishonest practices of those in power. As we near election day for Cherokees across the nation, the tainted legacy of Bill John Baker and Chuck Hoskin, Jr. continues to hang in the balance, and with it, the future of the tribe. It’s up to the voters to decide their future now.