Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker speaks to more than 1,000 Cherokees and visitors during his inauguration speech Friday.
Published August 14, 2015
TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA — Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden and eight Tribal Councilors pledged today to preserve, protect and defend the Cherokee Nation Constitution as part of their oath of office for the coming four year term. They also vowed to promote the culture, heritage and traditions of the Cherokee Nation.
More than 1,000 people filled the Sequoyah High School gym Friday to watch the swearing-in of the elected leaders and hear Chief Baker vow to continue to improve the lives of Cherokee Nation citizens.
“The Cherokee people have always led from the front. Throughout history we have set the standard. We were the first tribe to develop a written language. We were the first tribe to have a written constitution. We were the first tribe to defend our sovereignty in the United States’ highest court,” Baker said.
“Today we are no different. This is not a time to follow, but a time to lead. We will set our own mark, and we will achieve it. The Cherokee Nation has never been in a better position to advance its goals than today. If we work together, arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder, we will prevail and succeed like we always have.”
Chief Baker avoided a runoff after being reelected in the tribe’s general election with 52.62 percent of the vote against three other candidates. Deputy Chief Crittenden took 62.57 percent of the vote with one opponent.
(L to R) Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Justice John Garrett administers the oath of office to Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden as granddaughter Tyler Paige Stopp holds the Bible.
“Building homes, expanding quality health care and creating career and educational opportunities is changing our tribe for the better day in and day out,” Crittenden said. “These are the things most important for our kids, our families and our tribe not only to survive, but to thrive. These are the building blocks and foundation for our success and for our future as a tribal government.”
District 3 Tribal Councilor David Walkingstick and District 12 Tribal Councilor Dick Lay begin their second terms in office. Both won reelection in the June general election.
District 1 Tribal Councilor Rex Jordan, District 6 Tribal Councilor Bryan Warner, District 8 Tribal Councilor Shawn Crittenden, District 14 Tribal Councilor Keith Austin and At-Large Tribal Councilor Wanda Hatfield all begin their first terms as members of the legislative body. District 13 Tribal Councilor Buel Anglen returns to office after sitting out four years. Anglen previously served on Tribal Council from 2002-13.
The inauguration ceremony also featured performances by the Cherokee National Youth Choir, Cherokee Adult Choir, Cherokee Baptist Choir, plus Nashville recording artist Becky Hobbs and world-renowned opera singer Barbara McAlister, both Cherokee Nation citizens.
A traditional meal was served to the community immediately following the ceremony.