Cherokee Nation Signs MOU Adding $1.7M to Special Infrastructure Fund

Cherokee Council Infrastructure Fund

TAHLEQUAH, OK – Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Council Speaker Mike Shambaugh signed a memorandum of understanding adding $1.7 million to the Council’s Special Infrastructure Fund, boosting a program that has already poured nearly $14 million into local road, bridge and community projects at the direction of individual members of the tribe’s legislative branch.

“When Speaker Shambaugh, Deputy Chief Bryan Warner and I discussed a special infrastructure fund for Council members back in 2021, we knew it could be some of the most impactful dollars spent,” said Chief Hoskin. “History has proven this correct and has shown the need for even more investment.”

In 2021, the Council approved the first Respond, Recover and Rebuild (RRR) Plan to allocate the tribe’s federal COVID-19 response and recovery funds into priority areas. Infrastructure was among those priority areas, totaling more than $64 million in total funds allocated or spent for projects to date. The funding source is largely from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

Chief Hoskin, Speaker Shambaugh and Deputy Chief Warner worked together in 2021 to establish a $15 million fund allocating $1 million in infrastructure dollars per Council district within the reservation for the period ending fiscal year 2024. Since 2021, Council-driven projects range from roads and bridges to water system upgrades to improvements and new construction of public facilities and related amenities. To date, the Council has spent nearly $14 million of the $15 million fund.

The expansion reallocates some existing, appropriated-but-unspent infrastructure funds. Each district will receive $100,000 for additional infrastructure projects, spent at the request of the district Council member. Additionally, each at-large Councilor will have the ability to direct $100,000 each to projects outside the Cherokee Nation.

“Having served on the Council, I know that these are some of the best dollars we can spend because Council members know their districts,” said Deputy Chief Bryan Warner. “An additional $100,000 helps pave a road, speed repairs in a rural water district, remodel a community building or any number of projects a Council member may identify.”

Speaker Shambaugh praised the measure as an example of the branches of government working together.

“In a day and age where there is often hopeless conflict within other governments, the Council Special Infrastructure Fund is an example of cooperation within Cherokee Nation government,” said Speaker Shambaugh. “We understand and respect the Chief’s role, but he respects ours and understands that infrastructure is very localized and something Council members must often lead.”