The Cherokee Nation is mourning the loss of its Secretary of State Charles Head.
Head, 63, died Wednesday in a collision with a tractor-trailer rig on U.S. 69 in Chouteau.
“Words cannot express how saddened we are at the passing of Secretary of State Charles Head,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “Charles has been a dear friend of mine for many, many years. My heart goes out to his family and many loved ones, including his wife Frances, his children and grandchildren. Charles was a Cherokee statesman and ambassador for all of Indian Country. He was devoted to serving and working for the betterment of Native people, first through a long career with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and most recently as our Secretary of State. He was an invaluable part of my administration, and will be greatly missed by all who knew him.”
Head began serving as Secretary of State to build relationships with the federal, state and other tribal governments in January 2012.
The Pryor native, a Cherokee citizen, had a love of protecting tribal interests, loved music, playing with his grandchildren and enjoyed speaking to Cherokee youth about the importance as a tribe to build strong relationships, recently attending a Teen Youth Summit in Fort Gibson.
“It’s a great loss, institutional knowledge that will be hard to replace. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family,” said Speaker of the Tribal Council Tina Glory-Jordan. “He was a good Cherokee man who had a heart for the people.”
Prior to taking office, Head worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs for more than a decade, most recently as the interim regional director for the Eastern Oklahoma office in Muskogee.
Before his October 2010 promotion, he was the interim deputy regional director for the same office and was the superintendent of the Miami agency office for two years.
Head worked for the tribe previously from 1987 to 2000, in roles ranging from executive director of finance to USDA Agriculture liaison.
Head is a graduate of Northeastern State University and was a Vietnam War veteran, serving in the Navy from 1970-73.