By ROBERT JUMPER
ONE FEATHER EDITOR
Cherokee has much for which to be thankful. With all the political turmoil of the past year (it has been going on much longer, it’s just that we all seem to have short memories), it would be easy to overlook some of the blessings we enjoy in our tribal nation.
Our children are some of the best-funded and supported in the nation. No Eastern Band Cherokee child must wonder if they will be able to go to college. Anyone who wants to go will find that financial support is available from the tribal education program, either as a full ride or as a supplement depending on the child’s other funding resources.
We have one of the best, if not the best, elementary and high school facilities in the state. State-of-the-art construction and environmental innovations have made the Cherokee Central Schools campus a showpiece for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. County, state, and federal dignitaries visit our school on a regular basis to admire and get ideas for the future growth of their school systems.
Our Tribe also operates a total immersion Cherokee language school on the Qualla Boundary. Cherokee children are educated in the traditional core areas, and they are taught the language that is so vital to the continuation of our heritage and Tribe.
Speaking of state-of-the-art, our Cherokee Indian Hospital is an absolute marvel of modern architecture. The Governor of North Carolina called it a model for which all hospitals in the United States should pattern their design upon. Standards and level of care continue to increase and the leadership there is focused on best care for our people.
Our Fire Department, Tribal EMS, and Police Departments are some of the best-equipped and best-trained in the country. Municipalities surrounding the Qualla Boundary are envious of the resources and capabilities of our Tribe when it comes to emergency services. In addition, we have new facilities for our Cherokee Tribal Court system and, over the past couple of years, we have added the ability to house our own prisoners in our new facility.
The first significant tourism product to be developed in quite some time opened this year as the Fire Mountain Trail system. Over 10 miles of hiking and mountain biking that is sure to be the focus of many tourists making their way to Cherokee. Family tourism has continued to grow in Cherokee throughout 2017, meaning more dollars into the Tribe via the privilege tax and levy. It also means that entrepreneurial and employment opportunities abound for young (and old) Cherokee business people.
We have two big economic engines that are bigger and better than ever. Harrah’s Cherokee operations in Cherokee and Murphy are continuing to produce record revenues for our nation. The operation seems to never stop growing, with the recent addition of a new bowling mult-tainment center at the Cherokee location and one under construction in Murphy. An event center complex is also in the works, potentially bringing more jobs and revenue to the Boundary.
These are just a few of the good things that are going on at the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Communities still hold to the traditions that bind our Tribe together. When someone is hungry or in need, people still come together, mounting fundraisers in the form of public meals, raffles, clothing drives, home furnishing drives, and any other way a neighbor can think of to help a neighbor. And, when we lose one of our own, it becomes the tribal nation’s loss, along with that of the family’s. As I have heard Principal Chief Sneed on occasion, “We take care of our own”.
There is so much more that I have left out of this piece, but I think you get my point. Like any other family, government, or business, we will continue to have challenges, controversies and strife. But, we will also continue to have blessings, victories, and reasons to celebrate. For all the negative things that we have had to focus on, life is still good in Cherokee.