Cherokee chief defends Obama inaugural donation
Cherokee Nation Chief Chad Smith defended the tribe's $50,000 donation to the inaugural committee for president-elect Barack Obama. .

Smith likened the donation -- the maximum possible -- to a "sponsorship" or "advertising" for the tribe. He said the money ensures the tribe has a "seat at the table" in Washington, D.C.

"Under the new administration, we have a new opportunity to set policy," Smith said during his state of the nation address on Monday, The Tahlequah Daily Press reported.

Some tribal council members were surprised by the donation and canceled their trips to the January 20 inaugural, citing the high cost.

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