Cherokee Principal Chief Chad Smith's vision statement

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My vision for the future of the Cherokee Nation is that we will achieve and maintain an enriching cultural identity, economic self-reliance and a strong government. The vision begins with sight of the past. One hundred years ago, the Cherokee Nation had a sophisticated government with a Supreme Court building, National Capitol, penitentiary, nine courthouses, an outstanding educational system with two higher education institutions, 150 day schools and 90 percent literacy in Cherokee language. U.S. Senator Dawes said in 1883:

"The head chief told us that there was not a family in that whole nation that had not a home of its own. There was not a pauper in that nation, and the nation did not owe a dollar. It built its own capitol, in which we had this examination, and built its schools and its hospitals."

How could a society improve on a system where there was no poverty, every family had a home and the government had no debt? It is part of my vision for the next 100 years to achieve what we had 100 years ago: no poverty, every family having a home and the Cherokee Nation having no debt.

Redbird Smith, a highly respected leader, 100 years ago stated:

"A kindly man cannot help his neighbor in need unless he has a surplus and he cannot have a surplus unless he works. Our pride in our ancestral heritage is our great incentive for handing something worthwhile to our posterity. It is this pride in ancestry that makes men strong and loyal for their principle in life. It is this same pride that makes men give up their all for their Government."

In many ways, we want to repeat the success of our past and use our cultural values to guide us in the future.

*The Cherokee people shall enjoy and exercise an enriching cultural identity, which includes a thriving command of our language, cultural history, art, traditions and wisdom.

*Cherokees and their government become economically self-reliant and sufficient to the extent the Cherokee Nation is not required to accept federal funds to meet the needs of its people and every Cherokee has the opportunity to pursue the career of his or her choice.

*The government of the Cherokee Nation maintains itself as a strong sovereign government.