Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker announced he would seek a second term as head of the Cherokee Nation setting a vision to have the Cherokee Nation debt free by 2019 as one of his biggest goals.
Baker made the announcement on January 6 while being joined by S. Joe Crittenden, deputy principal chief. Baker highlighted the work he and Crittenden have done in the three and a half years they have been at the head of the Cherokee Nation, citing significant accomplishments in health care, education, Tribal Elder care and battling back corruption and abuse within the tribal government.
Accompanying Baker’s goal of having the Nation debt free by 2019 were the following goals for his second term:
—Building more homes for Cherokee families;
—Continuing to employ more Cherokees than ever in the tribe’s history
—Breaking the cycle of domestic violence;
—Economic development, job creation and workforce education;
—Continuing to establish accountability in tribal governance.
Since 2011, Baker has worked to save the Nation millions of dollars by eliminating “ghost employees,” selling the corporate plane and stemming corruption from within.
“We set out to change our government. Not only have we changed our government for the better, today we’re changing Cherokee lives,” Baker said.
In his first term as Principal Chief, Baker has injected life into the Cherokee Nation Housing Authority with more than 150 homes – more than the previous 12 years combined - being built since 2011; expansion of four new health centers, along with a new medical campus. The tribe’s dental, vision and hearing aid programs were also expanded in his first term.
“We owe it to our ancestors to show that we can do this. We can finish what we started. They never gave up despite what seemed like insurmountable odds, and we won’t give up either,” Baker concluded. “We’ll do what they did and keep moving forward, no matter what challenges and obstacles lay ahead. We’ll continue showing why the Cherokee Nation is one of the greatest societies the world has ever known and will ever know.”
In February of 2014, Baker signed an executive order raising tribal minimum wage to $2 more than the federal rate. In November of 2013 a tobacco compact was signed with the state of Oklahoma.
Following Baker’s announcement, Crittenden announced that he was running for re-election as well. One of his many passions is the continued recognition of the Cherokee military veterans.
“When Cherokee people truly believe in their government, we can operate successfully and strive every day to improve the lives of Cherokee people,” Crittenden said in a release.
“When I set out to run for Principal Chief, I never knew the challenges that would lie ahead. Looking back over the past three years, I can now honestly say it was worth it,” Baker said in his speech.
Read Chief Bill John Baker's announcement speech here.