CATOOSA, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation recently held its third annual Tribal Employment Rights Office awards ceremony to honor the success and accomplishments of Native American-owned businesses. The event was held at the tribe’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Catoosa.
“The Cherokee Nation is proud to honor TERO-certified business owners,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith. “These businesses are so important because they help build economic sovereignty, they help build communities and they create meaningful jobs for our tribal citizens.”
TERO maintains a list of Indian-owned businesses that is used by the Cherokee Nation and its entities when opening contracts for bid. TERO-certified firms receive preference in the bid process. During the ceremony in Catoosa, the Cherokee Nation presented eight outstanding TERO-certified businesses with awards to recognize their achievements.
Jim Sellers of Bearwood Native in Tulsa was presented the Indian Business Community Leadership Award for his community involvement and recent contribution to Leach Public Schools, which allowed eight Native American students to travel to the Houston Space Center.
The Indian Business Customer Service Award was awarded to Bob’s Printing in Claremore. The company is owned by Bob McCuistian.
Purchasing Solutions International out of Fort Worth, Texas received the Indian Consulting Firm of the Year Award for the service they provide in community organizations. The business is owned by Mike Williams.
Cooper Construction of Salina received the Indian Business Construction Company of the Year award. Cooper Construction is owned by Brian Cooper.
The Indian Retail Business of the Year was awarded to K Kountry located in Stilwell, a retail sales business owned by Kim Kliest.
“This award means a great deal to me,” Kliest said. “Receiving an award like this makes me feel special and makes me feel successful.”
Medical Equipment Affiliates, owned by Kelly J. Hathaway, was named Indian Woman Owned Business of the Year. Located in Tahlequah, Medical Equipment Affiliates provide health care supplies to not only Cherokee Nation tribal citizens but all those who reside within northeastern Oklahoma and northwestern Arkansas.
The Small Certified Indian Business of the Year Award was presented to Starr Motor Company, a travel agency owned and operated by Lyle Starr, located in Stilwell.
Builders Unlimited Inc., owned by Kathy A. Wright was awarded the Large Certified Indian Business of the Year Award. The business is located in Tulsa.
Special recognition was given to three different certified Indian-owned businesses that have been in business for the longest amount of time. Jerry and Rosemary Self with Self Construction Company and Jack Crittenden of Cherokee Termite and Pest Control have both been certified for 20 years. Debra Logsdon with Hicks Floor Covering was also recognized for 21 years of being a certified Indian-owned business.
Jon Overacker, manager of Employee Development and TERO said it was an honor to host an event for all of the vendors who provided quality products and service to the Cherokee Nation and its entities during the past year.
“The success of our certified businesses is essential for the economy in our 14-county jurisdictional area,” Overacker said. “Not only are we creating more dollars to be spent in our 14 counties but the certified businesses are creating employment opportunities for our tribal citizens to prosper.”
A special part of the evening included Cherokee Nation Deputy Principal Chief Joe Grayson Jr., speaking on the new Veteran’s Center Project, now in the beginning stages of construction, located in Tahlequah. Vendors were asked to give back and volunteer for the project, if possible.
Overacker said there was a tremendous response among the certified vendors and many pledge sheets were signed with promises to support the project with cash donations, labor, in-kind materials, solicitation and training for volunteers.
“It was a special moment to have the vendors give back to the Cherokee Nation and the veterans from those who have been made more successful due to the tribe and its policy to provide Indian preference with products and services,” Overacker said.
The Tribal Employment Rights Office was created in August of 1984, when the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council approved a resolution and ordinance enabling the tribe to exercise its inherent sovereign powers by imposing Indian preference on employers working within or near the jurisdictional boundaries of the Cherokee Nation.
For more information about the Cherokee Nation TERO program, call (918) 453-5334.