TAHLEQUAH — While introducing his son as the next principal chief, Chuck Hoskin Sr. relayed a story of how as a young boy, Chuck Hoskin Jr. was gravely ill and spent many days in an intensive care unit fighting meningitis.
“After many long days in ICU we took him home,” the elder Hoskin told the crowd of 1,500 people crowded into the Chota Conference Center at the Cherokee Nation Casino.
Choked with emotion, Hoskin looked toward his son, saying, “The doctor said God must have big plans for him.”
Hoskin Jr. will serve as the 18th constitutionally elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation for the next four years.
January Hoskin held a Bible for her husband’s hand to rest on as Cherokee Nation Justice John Garrett administered the oath of office.
“My father’s journey into public service nearly 25 years ago paved the way for this day,” the younger Hoskin said.
He spoke of “moving forward — together” and building “an economy where children who grow up in small towns across the Cherokee Nation can raise families, grow old and watch the next generation grow up.”
A young Cherokee can leave home, get an education, and can come back to run a business or “become a doctor in our state-of-the-art health system,” Hoskin said.
He addressed the need to protect the land, the air, the water and the Cherokee language.
“Moving forward, together, is how we rebuilt after our removal,” Hoskin said. “Moving forward, together, is how we created a great society and rebuilt our great democracy.”
He called on the Cherokee people to unify once again and move forward together — not to rally around a politician or a chief but to rally together.
Saying he was proud to be the principal chief, Hoskin said “politicians and chiefs come and they go.”
Future generations will measure the Cherokee Nation by its commitment to each other as countrymen committed to the tribe’s democracy.
During his own inaugural address, Deputy Chief Bryan Warner spoke of “loving each other and fighting for each other” and responding to issues with patience and kindness.
“Peacemakers plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness,” Warner said.
Also sworn into office were Cherokee Nation council members, including District 1 Councilor Rex Jordan; District 3 Councilor Wes Nofire; District 6 Councilor Daryl Legg; District 8 Councilor Shawn Crittenden; District 12 Councilor Dora L. Smith Patzkowski; District 13 Councilor Joe Deere; District 14 Councilor Keith Austin and at-large Councilor Julia Coates.
Hoskin is the second elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation from Vinita, the first being Thomas Buffington, who served from 1899-1903. He previously served as the tribe’s secretary of state and was a council member representing District 11 for six years.
Warner, of Sallisaw, served as the District 6 representative for four years and was Carl Albert State College’s Sallisaw campus director. He is a member of the Tribal Advisory Committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.