TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (KFOR) – The Cherokee Nation is giving millions of dollars to school districts in Northeast Oklahoma.

Tribe officials announced Wednesday that they are contributing $7.5 million to 107 school districts as part of their annual Public School Appreciation Day initiative, Cherokee Nation officials said.

This is the largest such disbursement for the tribe since it started the initiative in 2002.

“This year, the Cherokee Nation is once again setting a new record by contributing nearly $7.5 million to 107 school districts in Northeast Oklahoma. This is more than $1 million above last year’s contribution. In total, Cherokee Nation has provided more than $76 million to public education since 2002 through the sale of tribal car tags,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “The past two years have been unlike any other in modern history, and the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of working together as community partners to move forward together. I am proud of our longstanding partnerships with school districts in Northeast Oklahoma, and I know our investment in public education means we are all in it together.”

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Photo provided by Cherokee Nation.

Each school district will choose how to spend the funds.

Schools have previously used funds to cover teacher salaries, upgrade facilities, support operations, expand technology and enhance school programs. Funds were used the past two years on COVID-19 response efforts, according to Cherokee officials.

“The weight we place on the shoulders of our teachers and school administrators is already heavy, but during a global pandemic, that weight only increased. We asked our schools to adapt quickly to an ever-changing situation, and we all had to learn how to navigate the pandemic together,” said Deputy Chief Bryan Warner. “Because of Cherokee Nation’s annual car tag contribution to schools, we were able to help them weather the pandemic as safely as possible while ensuring students continued to learn and grow. I am proud of our schools for finding innovative ways to adapt. It takes all of us using our talents and callings to step up and lead the way for our children, and with these tribal funds, schools should have more resources to help them succeed.”

Funding totals by county are as follows:

  • Adair County – $598,929
  • Cherokee County – $1,056,989
  • Craig County – $182,074
  • Delaware County – $532,328
  • Mayes – $621,209
  • Muskogee County – $718,954
  • Nowata County – $115,233
  • Osage County – $4,072
  • Ottawa County – $129,129
  • Rogers County – $760,639
  • Sequoyah County – $617,855
  • Tulsa County – $1,646,096
  • Wagoner County – $234,061
  • Washington County – $251,550