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Bill John Baker sworn in as new leader of Cherokee Nation

Bill John Baker was sworn in as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma on Wednesday evening.

Baker scheduled the impromptu ceremony after the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court rejected an appeal by challenger Chad Smith, who lost his re-election bid by more than 1,500 votes. Baker said it was time for the tribe to move forward.

"I'm blessed and honored I was entrusted to become Chief of our Nation. I ask that all who can attend the Inauguration Ceremony do, and all who cannot pray for me and our Nation as we move forward," Baker said, referring to his official ceremony, scheduled for November 6.

Smith tried to block Baker from taking office. He claimed that the Freedmen, who are the descendants of African slaves, shouldn't have been allowed to vote in the election.

The tribe's court, however, said Smith failed to state a case. The court also said Baker won the race even without the Freedmen votes.

“I understand our Cherokee Nation Supreme Court has dismissed my appeal of the election,” Smith said in a statement, The Tulsa World reported. “I acknowledge that Bill John Baker has been elected to the office of principal chief and offer him any help I may provide in building the nation I so love and have been honored to serve these last 12 years."

Get the Story:
Baker sworn in as principal chief (The Tulsa World 10/20)
Cherokee tribe gets new chief after contentious election (Reuters 10/19)
Baker sworn-in as principal chief (The Cherokee Phoenix 10/19)
New Cherokee chief: Court rejects appeal; Baker sworn in (The Muskogee Phoenix 10/19)

Cherokee Nation Supreme Court Decisions:
Vann v. Salazar (October 11, 2011)
Cherokee Nation Registrar v. Nash (August 22, 2011)

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