TULSA, Okla. — A good chunk of Cherokee Nation’s financial boost to northeast Oklahoma’s economy benefited the tri-county area of Ottawa, Craig and Delaware counties.

According to a Cherokee Nation Economic Impact report, released on Monday, more than $3.04 billion from the tribe and its businesses, combined with the tribe’s COVID-19 relief funding, impacted the area’s economy.

“Cherokee Nation financial investment not only benefits Cherokees but everyone living in the 14-county reservation,” said District 9 Tribal Councilor Mike Shambaugh, of Jay.  

Cherokee Nation’s reservation covers Adair, Cherokee, Craig, Delaware, Mayes, McIntosh, Muskogee, Nowata, Ottawa, Rogers, Sequoyah, Tulsa, Wagoner, and Washington.

Cherokee Nation either directly or indirectly supports more than 18,900 jobs and $975 million in wages throughout northeast Oklahoma, the report states.  

There are 22,395 Cherokee citizens living in the three-county area.

The tribe’s direct economic footprint includes more than $1.96 billion in purchases, operations and activities, according to a report which was commissioned by the tribe.   

“Today, we gather to recognize the tremendous economic impact that Cherokee Nation has on northeast Oklahoma,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. in a prepared statement.

The local impact was almost 1,500 jobs.  Other findings:

  • In Craig County, Cherokee Nation economic activity supported nearly $13 million in county output, provided 336 jobs, and $15 million in household income.
  • The Cherokee Nation supports more than $196 million in Delaware County-produced goods and services and 1,116 jobs with an associated $41 million in labor income.
  • The Cherokee Nation has a nearly $5 million impact on the local Ottawa County economy, supporting 46 jobs and $1.7 million in labor income.

During 2021, the fiscal year studied by economists, the tribe built or repaired nearly 91 miles of road, installed 17 miles of water lines and completed 672 water improvement projects. The Cherokee Nation also delivered more than 146,000 meals to elders, provided 3,155 low-income households with heating and energy assistance, provided $19.6 million in scholarships to students, and provided $7.4 million in contributions of car tag revenues to public schools across northeast Oklahoma.

From job creation to infrastructure development, Cherokee Nation plays a vital role in driving the region’s economic growth and prosperity, Hoskin said.

“The economic impact of Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma cannot be overstated,” Hoskins said. “Through our businesses, educational offerings, health care expansion and community partnerships, we continue to enrich the Oklahoma economy and enhance the quality of life of our citizens, as well as our friends and neighbors.”  

The tribe has used $826.9 million of its federal COVID-19 relief funding to provide direct assistance payments to Cherokee citizens affected by the pandemic, including $552 million made directly to Cherokee citizens residing in Oklahoma.