TAHLEQUAH — A unanimous vote by sitting members of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council approved the nominations and addition of two at-large council members, Taylor Keen of Tulsa and Jack Baker of Oklahoma City, to represent Cherokee Nation citizens residing outside the tribe’s 14-county jurisdictional area.
The action, along with confirmation of Principal Chief Chad Smith’s Cabinet appoint- ments, was taken during Monday night’s council meeting.
The positions were mandated by the tribe’s new constitution, which was approved by the Cherokee Nation’s highest court on June 7, and had to be made within 60 days of the passage of the constitution.
Keen, who worked as a manager at Cherokee Nation Businesses, Inc., is a 1997 graduate of Harvard University and a former vice-president of Cherokee Nation Enterprises, Inc. He is an adjunct professor in The University of Tulsa School of Business and is a teacher of the Cherokee Nation history course.
Baker, who was born on his grandfather’s Cherokee allotment in Chewey, holds an accounting degree from Oklahoma State University. He retired from Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. in 1999 and is currently national president of the Trail of Tears Association and serves as president of the board of the Cherokee Nation Education Corporation.
On June 7, 2006, the Cherokee Nation’s highest court approved a new constitution for the tribe. The new constitution called for the addition of two at-large Tribal Council members to represent out-of-jurisdiction voters, in addition to the new Cabinet and Cherokee Nation Supreme Court posts. The Tribal Council approved the selections in their July 6 Rules Committee meeting.
“The most important part of the court’s decision was the assertion of inherent sovereignty. If we want to be a government, we need to act like a government. I think that was the hallmark of that decision,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith said at the time the new constitution was approved.
“Tonight we enjoy seeing history being made with the enactment of our new constitution,” said Smith. “The nomination of these officers, council members and justices is the will of the Cherokee people being carried out.”
The Council voted to confirm Diane Hammons of Tahlequah as the Cherokee Nation Attorney General. Prior to that appointment, she served as general counsel for the tribe, and was the first female to hold that position. She received her juris doctorate degree from The University of Oklahoma College of Law.
Callie Catcher of Broken Arrow was confirmed as the Cherokee Nation Treasurer by a unanimous vote of the Council. A CPA with over 25 years experience, Catcher served as CEO of Cherokee Nation Businesses, Inc., and has held top financial positions with the Cherokee Nation, Dover Resources, Coburn Optical Industries and Thermofil.
Melanie Knight, originally from Stilwell, was confirmed as the Cherokee Nation Secretary of State by a unanimous vote of the Council. With more than a decade of experience in legislative issues for tribal governments, Knight has extensive experience with self-governance, constitutional amendments, contracts and financial management systems. In addition to the Cherokee Nation, she has worked as a grant director with the Kaw Nation of Oklahoma and as a grant reviewer for the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C.
The Council also voted to confirm Sharon Wright of Park Hill as Marshal of the Cherokee Nation. Having more than 13 years of experience in law enforcement, Wright most recently served as director of the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service. She has been instrumental in securing cross-deputization agreements with other law enforcement agencies within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation.
The Council also voted to approve Kyle B. Haskins and James G. Wilcoxen as the two new justices to the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court. Under the mandates of the new constitution, the Supreme Court will have five justices instead of the three under the previous Judicial Appeals Court.
Haskins is currently a special judge in the 14th Judicial District in Tulsa and presides over family court, adoptions, guardianships and probate dockets. He received his J.D. degree from The University of Tulsa College of Law.
Wilcoxen, of Muskogee, received his J.D. degree from Oklahoma City University and specializes in American Indian law as well as general, civil and criminal litigation.
Source; Cherokee Nation