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Bill John Baker set to become new leader of Cherokee Nation

Bill John Baker has won election as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, according to unofficial results.

The Cherokee Nation Election Commission on Wednesday said Baker received 10,633 votes. Chad Smith, who was the incumbent chief, received 9,099 votes.

“The Cherokee people have spoken and I am humbled and honored to be selected to lead our great nation the next four years,” Baker said in a statement. “This has been a difficult and tough campaign for everyone but the campaign is behind us.”

The results came as the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court threw a potential wrinkle into the election. In a new decision, the five justices said an agreement that the tribe entered into in federal court was "unenforceable" in tribal court.

The agreement allowed the Freedmen, who are descendants of former slaves, to vote in the election. It also extended voting for all Cherokee citizens -- which led to an increase in the number of ballots that were cast.

Baker's campaign, however, insisted that he won the race regardless of the Freedmen vote. Smith has yet to concede although he acknowledged that he was behind in the unofficial tally.

Get the Story:
Baker holds lead in unofficial Cherokee vote tally (The Muskogee Phoenix 10/12)
Cherokee court's ruling may affect Baker's apparent election win (The Tulsa World 10/12)
Cherokee Freedmen encouraged by election of new chief (The Los Angeles Times 10/12)
Cherokee Nation: Unofficial tally shows challenger with insurmountable lead in chief vote (AP 10/11)

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

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