TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation says it has reached 400,000 tribal citizens and expects to become the most populous indigenous tribe in the United States again.
Cherokee Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said Wednesday that he expects pending citizenship applications to put the Cherokees on top once again.
The Arizona-based Navajo Nation in March announced it had reached a population of nearly 400,000 to surpass the Cherokees as the nation's most populous indigenous tribe.
“Reaching 400,000 Cherokee Nation citizens has really put the tribe’s Registration Department to the test, but we are determined to provide this important service so that our citizens can obtain the COVID-19 relief assistance they need during this pandemic and continue to stay engaged with their tribe,” said Interim Registrar Derrick Vann. “I want to thank Chief Hoskin and his administration as well as those on our Tribal Council for their support. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t say thank you to each and every one of our Registration employees for their dedication and the personal sacrifices they have made working additional hours in the evenings and on Saturdays to ensure we are processing citizenship applications as quickly as possible. They have really stepped up during these trying times and it is an honor to work alongside them.”
At times, the tribe’s Registration Department received 2,000 applications for citizenship per week, approximately 10 times the volume typically received.
Chief Hoskin Jr. announced earlier this year that the tribe is providing a $2,000 COVID-19 assistance payment to all enrolled Cherokee citizens along with those who receive approved citizenship status by June of 2022.
The Cherokee Nation Registration Department is temporarily closed to in-person services through October and will reopen to the public on Nov. 1 to allow staff to continue to focus on clearing the application backlog.
Among the Cherokee Nation’s 400,000 tribal citizens about 140,000 live in the Cherokee Nation Reservation.