If it wasn’t for Jack, I wouldn’t have made it through my first few Council meetings. Jack, we were seated right beside one another, and it was always a pleasure to have someone that loved to have order and follow a good direction and vision. But anyway, I want to say sea god hello, everyone. It’s good to see you all here. I see some familiar faces, and it’s wonderful not just here locally but also to see my friends from Washington. What a wonderful day. Anytime that I get to come in and get a hug from Miss Mildred Taylor from Marble City, it makes me feel a special warmth in my heart.

I do want to say welcome to the Cherokee Nation reservation. We are excited to be the host this year for our National Trail of Tears Association Symposium, something that is of the utmost importance. I want to tell you that Chief Hoskin sends his regrets for not being able to be here today. Something important has come up, but he will be with you tomorrow, as I understand. So, just say a prayer, and hopefully, you will get to see him tomorrow.

You know, we love this time of year, not just because of these beautiful moms, but it’s a time to recognize the harvest that we all undergo and think back to the times when our people were working diligently throughout the seasons to make sure that we had enough to just get by to the next season before we continued. And you know, when we talk about these things today, at the Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation businesses, we’ve been proud to be a continued sponsor of this organization. This year, we were able to make a community partners’ monetary donation of about $50,000 for the fiscal year of ’23. That’s something very important to us because we know this matter is important to you.

Yes, thank you. I think that our contributions showcase the wonderful partnership that we have between the Cherokee Nation and this association. You know, the value of the work that you do cannot be understated. I was reading just this week, sitting with the kids, and we were talking about understanding and what that is. I said, “Kids, there’s so much information out there, and I want you to know just because you read something doesn’t mean that that is exactly the way it goes.” That’s what this association stands for, to be able to put forth the correct information, the way we understand our history, so we can know what we’re sharing is correct in so many forms and fashions.

I picture Cherokees and other tribes across the great United States of America when they talk about Indian Country. Folks, I want you to understand, all of the United States of America is Indian Country. Let’s hear an applause for that! [Music] please.

But you know, the Cherokee story is one that many attach to the Trail of Tears. I had to teach my kids just this week that it wasn’t just a Cherokee story, that many other tribes were affected by this. They are our brothers and sisters, our tribal neighbors, and it’s important that we get these stories correct because there are things being told out there that others are taking in. We want to make sure we are the stewards of these stories. Our ancestors worked diligently for tribal set-aside dollars, working with the federal government that was not very friendly at many times and around many corners.

People say, “Why are tribal set-asides important today?” It’s because of the things we need to do but also because of the work our ancestors put forth. It’s something I take great pride in, making sure I represent my people correctly and represent our story with the utmost dignity and importance. It is in our story where we truly find that in our DNA, the same DNA that flowed through our ancestors is here today. That Trail of Tears, that forced removal, is where we find that resilience so many times.

For me, this year, it’s been in a song, sung by many of our Cherokee people—those old hymns that lifted up spirits when times were tough. There’s healing in those songs, healing in a story each and every day. I understand that, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and throughout all of our tribal leaders, for the things you do to make sure that story is told correctly. It will never go unnoticed and is of the utmost importance.

When we talk about Jack Baker, I think about our Remember the Removal riders. I see a few riders here in the audience today. That’s a treasure they get to experience. One group shared a story with me about being in a deep place, feeling emotions, and suddenly being surrounded by butterflies, reminding them they’re not alone and that our ancestors are here. That’s another part of that forced removal story I get to share with my kids, how important it is because that’s how they relate to it today.

Many of you understand that, but we have to make sure our kids understand the importance of these stories because there’s a lot of static in the air, many things that can take our youth’s attention away from what is true and real. We have an opportunity to take the high road. Just this morning, I talked to a group about a narrow road not many walk on—the high road. Our creator gives us that balance, tells us which step to take, and how to stay on that high road. If we look too much to the right or left, we fall off and find ourselves on a broad path crowded with all kinds of stories that may or may not be true.

So for you, I tell you, we find individuals like you on that high road, discovering who we are because people walk through life not knowing who they are until they hear about their ancestors. They wonder why they feel the way they do. We know the battles and scars our ancestors felt because we feel those. When we peel these layers back, we find healing. Our country and tribes are undergoing continuous healing. Today, we understand there’s so much out there for each of us to grasp and take hold of. Organizations like this are paramount to what our youth see tomorrow so they can have a future and pass these stories along in the most relevant and righteous way each and every day.

You know, not only being a child, when I think about the Cherokee Trail of Tears awards for excellence that eighth and twelfth graders are bestowed, it’s something I remember. When I was in school, Wilma Mankiller was chief, and you always wondered if she would be there to address us. I’m happy to say we continue these things today. If you know anyone thinking about these awards, they open in January, so that time is coming soon.

Back to the bike ride, the process has been ongoing. I thank Mr. Will Chavez for his work. We’re diligently looking at the next set of riders because training is just around the corner. Today is about each and every one of you. Thank you for coming today, assembling for what I feel is one of the most important things—understanding the truth of that story.

Right now, if you’re watching the news in Oklahoma, no matter the channel (I’m a Channel 6 guy, not plugging Channel 6), today is the premiere out in California for a very important movie about the Osage Nation: “Killers of the Flower Moon.” There are early showings tomorrow, and people are discovering what really happened to that nation. There are things that have happened to each tribal nation across the United States, and it is of utmost importance that we, as Cherokees or whatever tribe we are from, tell the correct story. We lift up our brothers and sisters from other nations and within our nation so we can move forward with the health and harmony the Creator intended for us.

Let the Creator’s light shine through you today. Thank you.

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Bryan Warner

If it wasn’t for Jack, I wouldn’t have made it through my first few Council meetings. Jack, we were seated right beside one another, and it was always a pleasure to have someone that loved to have order and follow a good direction and vision. But anyway, I want to

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