Who is Chuck Hoskin Jr.?
Chuck Hoskin Jr. is a name that has been shared across national airways concerning Cherokee and Native American affairs and locally, in the state of Oklahoma, a name that has been associated with an exciting period of growth within the Cherokee Nation. More recently, we are hearing a great deal of Hoskin Jr. as he is building on a storied career as Secretary of State for the Cherokee Nation in running an engaging campaign to become Principal Chief in the upcoming June 1 election. In looking back on the story of the man, it seems to be a journey that was destined from the beginning.
Born at Claremore Indian Hospital, Hoskin Jr. was raised in Vinita by loving parents with his sister. Initially, his father was an iron worker and his mother was a homemaker. However, through the course of his childhood, Hoskin Jr. was able to witness progress by hard work through both of his parents. His father became a letter carrier in order to work his way through college to become a teacher. Likewise, his mother worked hard through school while managing a family to become a Registered Nurse. These examples undoubtedly nourished the work ethic that has become synonymous with Hoskin Jr. throughout his career. A career that started at Braum’s when he was younger where he would meet his future wife, January.
Upon graduating high school, Hoskin Jr. went to the University of Oklahoma where he would obtain his Bachelor’s Degree and go on to complete his studies at the OU College of Law. While he had always had an interest in politics, it was at this time that Hoskin Jr.‘s father, who seems to be ever growing in his own life, served on the Cherokee Council from 1995–2007, which proved to be influential.
Through his own desire to serve, and the inspiration and influence of his father, Hoskin Jr. became involved in attending meetings regarding modernizing the Cherokee Constitution. In 1999, while still in law school, Hoskin Jr. was invited to be a part of the Constitutional Convention that led to the modern Cherokee Constitution. “It was an honor”, he said, regarding being involved in such a historic moment. A moment that was also when the young Hoskin Jr. began to be recognized on his own for the benefits of his natural talents, plus the merits of his humility and work ethic.
After practicing law for some time after graduation, Hoskin Jr. served on the Council of Cherokee Nation from 2007–2013. Through this time of service his experience in Federal and Tribal Law, and accomplishments in a multitude of initiatives and roles within the Tribal Council led to his nomination as Secretary of State by Principal Chief Bill John Baker in August 2013.
Social media, cultural events and the creation of twenty satellite organizations nationwide, providing urban resources and connection, have served effectively towards bringing Cherokees together. Moreover, in his time as Secretary of State, Cherokees have begun to receive photo ID’s proving membership and the local administration spends ten months out of the year traveling nationwide to engage and connect with tribe members.
In terms of infrastructure, Hoskin Jr. has seen the creation of a 480,000 square foot outpatient medical clinic in Tahlequah, to be completed this September. Hoskin Jr. and the Cherokee Nation lobbied the federal government in the largest Indian Health Service joint venture in history for 100 million to aid in the build-out, with the Cherokees covering 200 million. The facility is expected to create 850 jobs, further creating a path for young Cherokees to become doctors, nurses and medical professionals. To this end, the Cherokee Nation has created another joint venture with Oklahoma State University, who is building a medical school in Tahlequah.
Moreover, in addition to facilities at the four-story outpatient hospital featuring a full range of medical care for Cherokees, the buildout is paying attention to art and form as a place that represents Cherokee culture as well. Once completed, it will be the largest medical facility of any tribe in the United States. It is a monumental moment for the Cherokee Nation and a sign of their prosperity and the forward thinking of their leadership.
Additionally, Hoskin Jr. has been a national spokesperson for the Cherokee Nation and for Native American affairs both nationally and internationally. He gave testimony concerning the Cherokee Nation to the United Nations and recently, when a story surrounding Senator Elizabeth Warren inspired a national discussion on what it means to be Cherokee, Hoskin Jr. was the voice that was sought after to bring reason and understanding to the issue. “Anytime we can talk about what it means to be Cherokee and its positive influence on the world I am glad to do it’, he said. Through these accomplishments, and many more, coupled with his character, it is no wonder that Hoskin Jr. is the front runner to become the next Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.
Sitting Chief, Bill John Baker, has stated that, “Chuck Hoskin, Jr. is the most qualified, hardest-working person ever to run for Chief of the Cherokee Nation.” And while his accomplishments have certainly been historical, they are coupled with Hoskin Jr’s vision for the future in creating a great deal of excitement surrounding his campaign.
If elected, some top priorities are health care, noting elderly care and reduced wait times, language and economic growth. He aims to continue making improvements to health care and in making the recruitment and development of doctors, nurses and medical professionals more robust. Along this vein, he has initiatives to inspire young Cherokees to learn. Ever envisioning a path forward, Hoskin Jr. has a vision to help young people go to college and to create jobs they can go into upon graduation. This vision is strong within the medical field, but Hoskin Jr. is setting his sights on bringing strong economic growth to smaller towns as well. The Cherokee nation is mainly found in small towns and “we don’t want to see them die on the vine. We find winning strategies that look at obstacles towns have and that’s how we win”, he said.
In developing new generations of young Cherokees to go into the medical field, and to help turn the corner on job growth, the preservation of the Cherokee language is paramount among educational initiatives. Currently, there is a full immersion program of a Cherokee only school for K‑6th grade students in Sequoyah. Otherwise, there is further development of adult immersion and language programs at NSU to accomplish this endeavor.
Additionally, Hoskin has said he wants to “tackle environmental issues concerning the water, the air, and the land. To be wise stewards of the land and be a part of the solution.”
To make these accomplishments an ever-growing reality, Hoskin Jr. has chosen Bryan Warner as his running mate to become Deputy Chief. Warner has a storied background as an educator, teaching chemistry, biology, microbiology and botany, and is currently the Campus Director, at Carl Albert State College. He was elected to the Cherokee National Tribal Council in 2015 and has extensive recognition and accomplishments that speak to his heart for service, his leadership, and his initiative. He and his wife raise their three children in Sallisaw where he has had a significant impact through civic involvement and volunteer work. Hoskin Jr. has said of Warner that he is, “highly intelligent and creative. I know we will work well together because we already have worked well together.”
Another great partnership Hoskin Jr. was sure to speak to was his family. “January and the kids keep me centered”, he said. Speaking to her hard work and passion on behalf of the Cherokee people he said, “She [January] has been intricately involved with me and on her own. She takes time to make sure our children are getting involved in Cherokee culture.”
Voting occurs on June 1. For information regarding the election, you can visit the Cherokee Nation Election Commission at https://cherokee.org/Our-Government/Boards-Commissions/Election-Commission/Election-Information.
For more information on Chuck Hoskin Jr. and his campaign you can visit hoskinwarner.com or follow the campaign on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HoskinWarner
Lee Brennan has worked across a broad spectrum in his career ranging from journalism, culinary arts, ministry and living the life of an entrepreneur. Currently residing in Tulsa, OK where he is raising his beloved daughter, and enjoying life with his friends and family, Lee is driven by a love for people and a passion for telling great stories.