Cherokee Nation’s First Secretary of Natural Resources Appointed

Sara Hill is sworn into office by Supreme Court Justice Angela Jones as her husband, Jerry Starkey, holds the Bible.

Sara Hill is sworn into office by Supreme Court Justice Angela Jones as her husband, Jerry Starkey, holds the Bible.

Published October 14, 2015

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA — Longtime Cherokee Nation attorney Sara Hill was confirmed Monday as the tribe’s first secretary of natural resources, a cabinet level position to oversee the tribe’s environmental programs and advise the Chief and Tribal Council on land, air and natural resources policies.

The position was created by the 1999 Cherokee Nation Constitution but never filled until Hill’s recent nomination by Principal Chief Bill John Baker. The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council unanimously confirmed Hill’s appointment during Monday night’s meeting.

Hill, of Tahlequah, starts immediately.

“I am so proud to say we are finally making our natural and environmental resources a priority. Sara Hill will ensure our natural resources are properly preserved for the future of the Cherokee Nation and our people,” Chief Baker said. “We cannot leave today’s environmental issues for our children and grandchildren to solve. That is an unfair burden. We have a better vision of preservation, and we have taken action to ensure we reach our goals.”

Hill has served the tribe as a deputy attorney general since 2004 and as a special assistant United States attorney for the U.S.  Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Oklahoma since 2014. She chairs the Cherokee Nation Interdisciplinary Water Work Group that has managed the tribe’s comprehensive water planning endeavor for more than three years.

Hill’s legal representation for the Cherokee Nation includes examining the feasibility of a hydroelectric project on the Arkansas River, environmental issues, water rights and natural resource protection.

Chief Baker also nominated Hill to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Regional Tribal Conservation Advisory Council of the Central Region, which was created to provide effective means of communication with tribes at both the national and regional levels.

“With the Secretary of Natural Resources Sara Hill in place, coupled with the leadership of this Tribal Council and Chief Baker, we have the ability to develop laws that will truly enhance the sustainability of our land, water and air for generations to come,” said Tribal Council Speaker Joe Byrd. “The Cherokee people deserve that. Clean air and water and a fertile land will always be our foundation for long-term health as a tribe and a people.”

Hill graduated cum laude at Northeastern State University with a Bachelor of Arts in political science in 2000. She earned her Juris Doctor from the College of Law at the University of Tulsa in 2003. Hill is admitted to serve before the Supreme Court of Oklahoma, the courts of the Chickasaw Nation and Cherokee Nation, the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Northern Districts and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“I am very honored to be appointed to this position, but, more importantly, I’m glad that Chief Baker and the Tribal Council are making protection of our natural resources a priority,” Hill said. “It takes a sustained and resolute commitment from our political leaders to ensure the environment is protected and preserved for the next seven generations of Cherokees.”

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  1. Rebecca Araujo 3 years ago