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Former Cherokee Chief Chad Smith Responds to Steve Russell Column

I am responding to Steve Russell’s column, “Tribal Elections in the Indian Wars.” I am reluctant to respond to such letters and columns because authors should be entitled to a wide breath of opinion and analysis.

But Steve has gone over the line with making wild, irresponsible and false allegations about my time in office. Perhaps he is thinking of the current chief, Bill John Baker, when he uses the words “master of cronyism.” Baker’s political house cleaning, replacing dedicated Cherokees with his own personal favorites and his campaign supporters, has drawn attention all over the Cherokee Nation, while my administration was marked by a willingness to work with all Cherokees and even hiring my own political opponents when they were the best qualified people for the job. I enjoy Steve’s effort at provocative writing and encourage him to continue but he should do so with allegations based on fact. Steve complains about and run downs the at-large candidates in the Cherokee Nation election. If he was so disgruntled about them, he should get off his self-righteous rump and run. He was eligible. There was no anchor tied to his waist holding him back from filing for At-Large Councilmember. I bet he would be a good one; he would have things straightened out overnight.

Chad Smith was the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1999 to 2011. His team improved healthcare services from $18 million to $310 million, created 5,000 jobs, and dramatically advanced its education, language, and cultural preservation programs including a pre-school to sixth grade Cherokee emersion school He is the author of “Leadership Lessons from the Cherokee Nation” published by McGraw-Hill and currently has a law and consulting practice.

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