Cherokee Nation chief disputes legality of employment law

The leader of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma said he won't sign or veto a bill that requires six top positions to be held by tribal citizens.

Chief Bill John Baker at first said he would veto the bill, calling it "unconstitutional." But now he plans to ignore it and said the Cherokee Nation Council can file a lawsuit in tribal court if necessary.

"If the council cares to challenge the separation of powers and work to diminish the stature and independence of the executive branch, then courts are the proper recourse," Baker told The Tahlequah Daily Press.

The bill applies to principal chief's general counsel, the chief of staff, the communications director, the government relations director and the CEO of Cherokee Nation Businesses. Since taking office, Baker filled all but one of those positions with non-citizens.

However, he just appointed Amanda Clinton, a citizen, to serve as communications director. She will take over the post from Jim Gray, a member of the
Osage Nation, who will continue to serve as government relations director. He was handling both jobs on a temporary basis.

Get the Story:
Chief reverses decision to veto exclusionary hiring measure (The Tahlequah Daily Press 8/20)

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Cherokee Nation Council bars non-Cherokees from top positions (8/15)