Cherokee Nation Opens Stilwell Food Distribution Center
Cherokee Nation employees and dignitaries mingle at the grand opening ceremony for the Stilwell Food Distribution site.
STILWELL -- The Cherokee Nation opened the second of three new food distribution centers in Stilwell on December 1. Tribal members who meet income guidelines can receive food from the center, which is located in the Cherokee Nation Industrial Park in the Cherry Tree community.
The center is set up like a store, with shopping carts, fresh produce and a freezer section for frozen meat.
"This building allows us to serve our people with dignity," said Sherry Perry, the former manager of the Cherokee Nation Food Distribution Program. "This project started in 1993, with Chief Mankiller. We found that 100 years ago, the federal government was feeding our people off the back of wagons. With our tailgate site here in Stilwell, we were doing the same thing 100 years later. Cherokee people deserve better than that."
"We’ve been here in the cold and the rain when the wind chill was down below zero," said Bud Squirrel, manager of the Cherokee Nation’s Food Distribution Program. "During the heat of the summer, when it’s over 100 degrees, our people would have to wait in line outside. This building will let us treat our citizens with respect."
"This is a landmark day," said Chad Smith, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. "Today, we’re bringing dignity to the way we serve our people. But in the future, the Cherokee Nation will use this building in other ways, as a community building, or a youth center, because our people will no longer need the services provided here."
Cherokee Nation council members Jackie Bob Martin and Harold "Jiggs" Phillips also spoke at the grand opening of the center. Stilwell Mayor Marilyn Hill-Russell and members of the Stilwell Chamber of Commerce were on hand to celebrate the center’s opening. The Cherokee Nation opened a similar center recently in Salina, and plans to open a third new food distribution site in Sallisaw soon.