Monday, August 31, 2015

Historic Cherokee council meeting held at Red Clay, TN; first gathering since 1838

History was made on Aug. 28 as elected leaders of the Cherokee Nation, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians gathered for a joint council meeting at Red Clay State Park, Tennessee, a place long revered by our Cherokee people as sacred ground.

It's the first time all three Cherokee tribes have gathered at Red Clay in generations. The last meeting there was to make important decisions for the Cherokee people as the tribe was facing forced removal to Indian Territory in 1838. This tri-council meeting was an unprecedented event, and I was honored to participate as we again came together as one people, from one fire.

The date of the gathering was also significant as it marked the 177th anniversary of the departure of the first detachment of Cherokees who were forced to leave our homelands in the east for modern-day Oklahoma. Red Clay was the Cherokee capital when the removal polices of the federal government were officially enacted and our people began that long and painful trek.

The history of Red Clay is an interesting one. Previously, our capital had been New Echota, Georgia, but sadly the state began passing legislation in 1829 that extended its state laws and jurisdiction over Cherokee territory. These laws, often called the Georgia Harassment Laws, terrorized and displaced many Cherokee families residing in the state. Additionally, Georgia prohibited the Cherokee government and Cherokee courts from functioning. It was an attempt to keep our tribal council from planning, making decisions or protesting federal Indian policies.

To combat this, the Cherokee capital was moved just north of the Georgia state line into Tennessee. There were 11 separate council meetings held here between 1832 and 1837. It was also at Red Clay when the Cherokee people first learned about the Treaty of New Echota, and later, where Principal Chief John Ross made the announcement that the Cherokee people would be removed. Prior to removal, the Cherokee Nation encompassed all or parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

Today, Red Clay is a Tennessee state park and a place for remembrance and respect. Seeing the grounds filled with modern leaders from our respective sovereign governments was moving and a memory I will cherish forever. During the meeting, we came together as brothers and sisters and discussed the issues of the day and shared the successes of our people. Although we discussed the issues of today, the fact we were sitting in council at our ancient home, a place where our ancestors made life-altering decisions that shaped our tribe forever, was never far from anyone’s mind.

I can only admire what our ancestors did and the way they kept the Cherokee people alive. The leaders who met at Red Clay ensured we would survive by any means necessary. The burden of leadership in those dark days of our past was immense. They were true Cherokee patriots and statesmen and will be honored for all time.

I want to thank the Eastern Band of Cherokees for being such gracious hosts, and I encourage each of you to visit our ancient homelands if the opportunity arises.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Cherokee National Holiday opportunity for reunion and celebration

This Labor Day weekend, we are planning for another record crowd at the Cherokee National Holiday in Tahlequah. More than 100,000 visitors are again expected to visit the Cherokee capital city for the 63rd installment of our annual homecoming. We look forward to hosting you, your family and friends for the celebration of Cherokee history, heritage and hospitality.

The first Cherokee National Holiday was held in 1953 to commemorate the anniversary of the signing of the 1839 Cherokee Constitution. Every year we gather to honor that event, reaffirm our tribal pride, and reconnect with our fellow Cherokees. As always, a vast array of entertainment and cultural and athletic events are being planned for participants.

This year’s “reunion” theme is one that resonates with all of us. This holiday celebration is a time set aside for family, friends and fellowship. Our reunion will be made up of everything from intimate family gatherings, large-scale activities and cultural ceremonies. This year’s reunion theme is also a reference to the bison herd that has returned to Cherokee Nation soil for the first time in 40 years. Bison are part of our pre-removal history and culture, and they are symbols of our great country. They represent freedom, strength and resiliency—some of the very same traits we identify in ourselves as Cherokee people.

As we come together this year, we celebrate the accomplishments of our tribal government, our people and our bright future. The progress we have made just since our last Cherokee National Holiday is amazing, and I am confident we will build on that momentum in the coming year.

Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden and I are humbled and honored to be serving the Cherokee people for another four years. Recently, we took the oath of office for our respective roles. Our administration operates with a simple goal: make the lives of Cherokee citizens better today, tomorrow and for the next seven generations.

I believe our future is brighter than ever. Putting the people first and emphasizing the things that make healthy and strong families are critical for our long-term success. We have more Cherokee Nation citizens working for the tribe and our businesses than ever before. More Cherokees have received academic scholarships than at any time in our history, and we have built more homes for Cherokees in the past year than we did in the 10 years prior.

That’s why when I look around the 14 counties of the Cherokee Nation, I realize that we are truly blessed, and we look forward to sharing that bounty with all of our guests during the Labor Day weekend. We assure you that Cherokee National Holiday has something of interest for everyone. From traditional foods, music and storytelling to competitive traditional games, like Cherokee marbles and stickball, there is an abundance of culture sharing. History enthusiasts can explore our local tribal museums, which highlight different aspects of Cherokee history and heritage. Additionally, a car show is planned, as well as a fishing derby for kids and a softball tournament for men and women. Of course, one of the biggest attractions every year is the celebrated intertribal powwow, recognized as one of the biggest and best in the United States.

Cherokee National Holiday will be held Sept. 4-6 and is guaranteed to be a festive celebration that covers the spectrum of Cherokee life—from our traditional roots to our progressive values of family and community. It’s an opportunity to make memories you and your family can cherish for a lifetime.

We hope to see all of you there.

Monday, August 17, 2015

New initiative provides free Cherokee Phoenix newspaper subscription to tribal citizens

Informing and educating our citizens about the Cherokee Nation government is crucial to remaining vigilant in our mission to serve the Cherokee people. Open and transparent communication allows Cherokee Nation citizens their inherent right to a government they can monitor and closely follow. To fulfill this mission we have launched an exciting new project, the Citizens’ Access to Transparency initiative.

Today, the Cherokee Nation population is close to 320,000 citizens, making us the largest tribe in the United States. However, many of the addresses on file are no longer valid due to citizens moving and not updating their contact information. 

Beginning this week, Cherokee Nation citizens with an updated address on file with the tribe’s registration department will receive a free, one-year subscription to the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper.
This will provide tribal citizens with even more access to our government through the news source many follow closely, the Cherokee Phoenix.  The Cherokee Nation has long been a leader in tribal government transparency, and this is one more way we are working to increase that transparency.

The Cherokee Phoenix is an independent media source whose mission is to inform and educate readers about important local, state and national issues that may affect the tribe and our citizens. It contains information on tribal programs and events, but more than that, it brings the Cherokee people news about people they know, their families and their communities. In print since 1828, the paper has a legacy of providing an unbiased perspective about the Cherokee Nation and that is what we want to share with our citizens with this free subscription. The Cherokee Phoenix is published the first of each month and will be mailed directly to each tribal household.

Maintaining a current address with the Cherokee Nation registration office will not only ensure your household receives the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper, but other important news about tribal services and programs. From time to time we will share additional tribal publications such as annual reports and Anadisgoi, an informative, quarterly magazine created by our communications department.

Additionally, as new tribal services roll out like our statewide hunting and fishing licenses, which are set to be mailed in January, an updated address helps ensure Cherokee Nation citizens receive that information on time.   

I encourage all Cherokee Nation citizens to take just a few minutes to update their addresses and ensure our registration office has correct contact information. Please visit and click on “services,” then “tribal citizenship,” then “update information” to print, fill the form out and return via mail, fax or email.

I am proud to offer this service and believe the Citizens’ Access to Transparency initiative improves our capacity to communicate more openly and transparently with our citizens.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Will Rogers & Wiley Post Fly-In set for Aug. 15

A fly-in at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch is set for Aug. 15, the 80th anniversary of the “crash heard around the world,” when both Will Rogers and Wiley Post died in an Alaska plane crash in 1935. Cherokee Nation Businesses is sponsoring the event.

That day and the lives of Rogers and Post are remembered each year on the Oologah ranch where Will Rogers was born. Usually a Sunday event, it was changed to Saturday to reflect the anniversary of the deaths.

Born in Oolagah, Indian Territory, on Nov. 4, 1879, William Penn Adair Rogers was son to a prominent Cherokee senator, judge and cattleman.

Airports across the country have been invited to join in a special moment of remembrance at 10 a.m. CST at their respective airports to honor those who have lost their lives in small aircraft accidents.

At that same time, a short program at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch airstrip will pay tribute to the lives of Rogers and Post.

RSU Radio will live stream the tribute on 91.3 FM and on their website

The popular duo of Lester Lurk and Joe Bacon, aka “Will and Wiley,” will land about 9 a.m.

The fly-in provides an opportunity for the public to get a close-up look at airplanes and meet the pilots. 

Storyteller Robert Lewis also will be sharing traditional Cherokee stories. There will be antique cars, inflatables and games for children and food concessions. Ample parking is provided with rides to the viewing area.

Admission is free, but donations will be accepted. For more information, visit

Monday, August 3, 2015

Cherokee Nation Inauguration Day: a celebration of our people and our future


It is a time for us all to come together as one nation and move forward collectively to a bright future. Thank you to all Cherokee tribal voters for letting your voices be heard during our recent elections. Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden and I deeply appreciate the Cherokee people for placing their faith in our leadership. We appreciate the support and faith in a vision that creates a better quality of life for our citizens and our state. 

During our first term, we started building Cherokee homes again, Cherokee Nation Businesses earned record profits, and we invested more than $100 million of casino profits into the expansion of a world-class health care system.  We’ve done a lot of positive things for our children to grow healthy, for our elders and women to feel protected, and for our families to flourish with access to education and careers.  

But we have an historic opportunity to accomplish more for our people and our Nation. We can assist our elders and we can inspire more children to pursue their education, we can help create more quality jobs, and we can help our Cherokee people raise strong families.

We look forward to continuing our work to create the best future for the Cherokee Nation.   
I respectfully ask that all Cherokees join us for a celebration of our culture, our strong government and democracy. Please join us for the Cherokee Nation official inauguration on Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. The inauguration will begin at 10:30 a.m. at Sequoyah High School’s The Place Where They Play, followed by a traditional meal. 

Also being sworn in are Cherokee Nation Tribal Council members Buel Anglen,  Keith Austin, Shawn Crittenden, Wanda Claphan Hatfield, Rex Jordan, Dick Lay, David Walkingstick and Bryan Warner.

Each of us has been given profound responsibility, bestowed upon us by the Cherokee people, and we are all deeply honored by your faith and trust. 

I'm deeply blessed and honored to be the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. I ask that all who can attend the inauguration ceremony do, and all who cannot to pray for the Deputy Chief, our Council, our tribe and me as we move forward.

I promise to keep fighting for our people, developing programs that grow healthy and successful families and enable our tribal nation to flourish. I know that with the help of this Tribal Council, we will make Cherokee Nation a better government for the people.

Today, we live in challenging times, but we also live in an era of emerging technologies and considerable opportunities.  We stand at the beginning of a new era of possibility and security for the Cherokee people.

Our vibrant culture and heritage and our record investments in health care and education have created a foundation for our economic success. That success will serve the Cherokee people and help create a thriving future for the next seven generations of Cherokees. That’s our fundamental mission.

During these next four years, I believe you're going to see tremendous positive changes for the Cherokee Nation—better than anything you've seen before. I give you my solemn oath that I will continue to work every minute of every day to make our Nation as great as it can be.