Cherokee Nation graduates more welders in training program



Front row (L to R) Welding graduates Levi Hammer, Matthew Kinsey, Steven Stephens, Blake Tanner, Jobe Tanner and Cody Scott. Back Row (L to R) Welding Instructor R.D. Waterdown, Career Services Christy Stites, Director of Vocational Programs George Roach, Career Services Brenda Fitzgerald, Tribal Councilor Janees Taylor, Career Services Executive Director Diane Kelley, Special Projects Officer Hunter Palmer, Director of Finance Debra Lack, Director of Apprenticeship and Training for Iron Workers Local 584 Brian Tannehill, and Business Development Coordinator Larry Daughtery. Not pictured: Manuel Cantu and David Madding

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation graduated more skilled welders Friday from its innovative Cherokee Nation welding program.

The tribe held a graduation ceremony at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa for eight participants who just completed a 10-week course that meets welding industry certification for fast track jobs.

“I was making money as a helper, but I wanted to have a trade. I’ve seen 40-year-old helpers, and I didn’t want to be one of them,” said welding graduate Blake Tanner, a 21-year-old Cherokee Nation citizen from Jay. “The training was a great experience. It was a lot of hard work, but it prepared me to do the job. I plan to go on the road to work more jobs.”

The Cherokee Nation Career Services Welding Program is a highly successful collaborative effort between the tribe and Tulsa Iron Workers Local 584.

In 2014, the Cherokee Nation’s Career Services office was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to provide training to workers in high-demand industries.

To date, 78 participants have graduated from the program and 37 have gone on to obtain their state welding certification.

“We are striving to help our citizens gain the skills that will allow them to earn a quality job. Welder and iron worker positions are among the most in-demand career opportunities right now across Oklahoma, and Cherokee Nation is playing a vital role in ensuring the workforce is prepared to grow with our global economy,” said Cherokee Nation Chief of Staff Chuck Hoskin, who is also a former welder and lifetime member of the Iron Workers Local 584 Union. “In northeast Oklahoma, we can help businesses relocate and expand, along with making sure a well-trained and educated workforce has the abilities and knowledge companies are seeking. That’s how Cherokee Nation can continue expanding its economic impact in Oklahoma.”

The welding apprenticeship gives participants an opportunity to earn a year’s worth of credit in a 10-week program. Participants do not have to be Native American but must meet certain criteria.

“The tribe’s welding program is one of the many ways we are diligently working to get our citizens trained and employed,” said Tribal Councilor Janees Taylor, of Pryor, who also spoke at the ceremony. “Like many of our Career Services programs, this one has a proven track record and is continuing to give our citizens the skill set to attain quality jobs, which in turn boosts the economies of our communities in northeast Oklahoma.”

The tribe is hosting its next welding class on March 6, which is full, but offering another class May 5, with slots still available.

For more information on the welding program, call 918-453-5555 in Tahlequah or 918-574-2749 in Tulsa.

Cherokee Nation News Release
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Julie Hubbard 918-207-3896 

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