thank you so much, Jack. But oh and oo everyone, I’m really glad to be with you again. I’m glad that the conference is back here in the Cherokee Nation. But as you know, everywhere you’ve gone on, we’ve tried to come and support you. No matter where you’ve had your conference, we’ve tried to be there to support you. And of course, having you here in the Cherokee Nation is particularly special to us. I love this organization. This organization helps keep that promise that the Congress made in 1987 and it helps continue the efforts that were begun in 1993. We’re now, I think, the 30th year of this organization, and I admire it. We support it because it executes on such an important mission which ought to be near and dear to the heart of every Cherokee leader, and it is.

You have some members of our Council here and those that couldn’t join us send their regrets. The Deputy Chief, I know he was able to join you the other day. Keeping the memory of our forced removal in the minds and the public consciousness in this country is important. I try to talk about the subject when I go talk to audiences, particularly non-Indian audiences. What I share with them, and something you all know well, is that the history of our forced removal is something the country ought to remember. It’s something we ought to talk about. We ought to remember that the United States, a great democracy, once tried to crush a great democracy—the Cherokee Nation. They did it more than once, but certainly, our forced removal is part of that dark chapter of history.

One thing though I try to impress upon audiences, and you all know the history, is our forced removal is important to remember, but the chapter that came after that is just as important and in some ways more important because of what it says about the Cherokee people. When I gather with you all, I think about our ancestors and what they went through. I think about those historic sites that you all help maintain and help interpret and help open up to the world and make accessible. I think about the fact that after all of that, after all of that near destruction of the Cherokee Nation—the splitting apart of our people, the damage it did to us economically, the damage it did to our social fabric, and what we faced when we were here—I mean literally right here in this area, when we had to decide as a people whether we were going to give in to the things that divided us or we were going to find a way to unite.

That part of our story, I think, is something the country needs to know more about. The world needs to have a deeper appreciation of it, and our people, particularly the young people coming up, need to remember. I mean, we’re living in a world in which divisions are causing such harm to people. It’s happening all around the globe as we speak, and in the United States, it’s happening. There’s a great deal of division, sadly, as we know. Sometimes it feels irreparable. Sometimes the divisions in the country feel like we can never heal them. And one of the great parts of the Cherokee story is that if you came back to this spot or several other places in the region that you all probably have visited since you’ve been back, you’re visiting places where the divisions were deeper, where the damage probably felt much more irreparable, and where there was probably a fair amount of giving up hope on whether there would be a future of a united Cherokee Nation.

Our people found a way to overcome that, didn’t they? I mean, in this area, it wasn’t just that people were at each other’s throat in the literal sense—they were at each other’s throat, people lost their lives. And yet somehow, through all of that, the Cherokee people found those issues, those causes, those commonalities that unite us. We decided, our ancestors decided, that it was worth preserving what it meant to be Cherokee. When we say we are Cherokees, that was worth preserving. That wasn’t something that was going to be relegated to some footnote in some American history book. What it meant to be Cherokee was worth saving, and we did that right here. If we did that right here and we can share with the world what we went through and the divisions that were thrust upon us and how we almost lost it all, I think the rest of the country might take some hope in finding their own reasons to be united. We need more unity in this country, not more division. I think the Cherokee story can help remind people that even in the darkest of hours, even where the divide is great, if you believe in something bigger than yourselves, if you believe that your community and its common interests are superior to your individual interests—that’s what the Cherokee people believe, that’s how we survived—then I think there’s a great deal of hope for the country and even divisions around the world.

Now, that’s pretty lofty to think that the Cherokee story can help save the world, but I think it’s true. I think it’s [Applause] true. None of that is true though, and none of those lofty aspirations are even attainable if we do not keep alive those stories that I just touched on and that you know well. The generation coming up—a generation of Cherokees that are bigger in number than any generation before—is just true. It’s the basic mathematics of it. They also have a world of opportunity in front of them, and they live in a society in which they are involved in a great many things and have a great many things that they identify with. But our job as Cherokee leaders, and your job frankly, is to make sure that this generation coming up remembers where they came from, remembers their history, remembers those dark chapters, remembers the trauma of removal but also remembers the triumph of what came after.

That’s why I say that next chapter is, I think, as important if not more important. You all are doing it. You all are keeping that alive, and it’s up to the rest of us to keep up with you. That’s why I’m proud that the Cherokee Nation supports this organization, the National Trailers Association. We support the chapters, and you’ll always have our support because we know that the mission that you are dedicated to keeping and the promise that you’re dedicated to keeping is something very special to us. It is consequential. What you do is consequential because again, it signals to the generation coming up that our story matters, that we’ve got to keep it alive, and that there are dedicated men and women across this country that are working every day to do it.

I’m proud to bear witness to it. I’m proud to support you where I can. I’m proud that the Cherokee Nation supports this organization financially, but I’m even more proud just to look out here and see so many friends—so many friends who dedicate so much of their lives to something that’s so important to the Cherokee people, to our future. You’ve got my admiration. If there’s anything that we can do with the Cherokee Nation to support you better, we want to do it. But I stand here as the chief of the Cherokee Nation. I feel very fortunate because I think back at this history, and there are so many points in that history in which we might have lost it all. We wouldn’t be gathering here as Cherokees or the friends of Cherokees. We wouldn’t be gathering here knowing that we’ve got a great Cherokee democracy. We wouldn’t be here, and I couldn’t be here as a chief of a nation because our nation might not exist. But it does exist. The Cherokee people are still here. We’re stronger than ever. And part of our strength is we’ve got great friends in the National Trailers Association. Thank you all very much for your friendship and your work.

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Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.

thank you so much, Jack. But oh and oo everyone, I’m really glad to be with you again. I’m glad that the conference is back here in the Cherokee Nation. But as you know, everywhere you’ve gone on, we’ve tried to come and support you. No matter where you’ve had

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