Cherokee homes (copy)

Chuck Hoskin Jr. visits with tribe member Lola McKinzie of Claremore prior to a recent press conference held at her home on Thursday. Hoskin will take the oath of office as Cherokee Nation principal chief on Wednesday. TIM STANLEY/Tulsa World

Chuck Hoskin Jr. takes the oath of office Wednesday as the new principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.

The tribe covers 14 counties of northeastern Oklahoma, including parts of Tulsa. It is the largest Native American tribe in the U.S. by population.

Hoskin visited with the Tulsa World editorial board last week, covering a wide range of topics including the pending U.S. Supreme Court reconsideration of tribal reservations in Oklahoma, state-tribal agreements for casino gambling, the tribe’s pending litigation with opioid manufacturers and his plans for the nation.

Cherokee Nation Businesses — the entity that operates a variety of investments including 10 casinos — is managed separately from tribal government, but the nation is the beneficiary of its growth and profitability. Hoskin emphasized the social responsibility for using those profits to improve the quality of life for ordinary Cherokees.

A key point in that agenda is health care. Hoskin emphasized the nation’s need to improve the availability and quality of care at the tribe’s hospitals and clinics in a continuing effort to make them the health care provider of choice for Cherokees.

Even before he took the oath of office, Hoskin has been steadily in the news, announcing plans to raise the minimum wage of tribal employees to $11 an hour and to fund repairs for hundreds of tribal members’ homes across northeastern Oklahoma. Both plans are important moves that will improve the lives of the tribe’s constituents.

Tulsa is at the confluence of three great Indian nations: The boundaries of the Osage, Creek and Cherokee tribes all include part of the city, giving Tulsa a unique history and character. For two of those three nations, this is a period of executive transition. Creek Nation Principal Chief James Floyd announced in June that he would not run for a second term in 2020. Bill John Baker, Cherokee principal chief since 2011, leaves office because of term limits.

A lawyer by training and formerly a tribal council member and secretary of state, Hoskin comes across as a smart, energetic young leader for the nation and a strong successor to Baker.

We congratulate him on taking office and look forward to see him moving ahead on his agenda.

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