Cherokee Nation's New Leader Shaking Things Up In Tahlequah

Friday, October 21st 2011, 5:41 pm
By: News On 6

Emory Bryan, News On 6

TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma -- The new chief of the Cherokees is two days into the job and is already out making appearances - and in the office making changes.

After all the conflict it's clear voters were ready for change, and Chief Bill John Baker says that's exactly what he's doing. The new chief said this was his third speech in the first 48 hours of the administration.

At the opening of a new Cherokee Museum, he briefly choked up talking about the loss of life on the Trail of Tears, which included members of his own family.

With the controversy of the election behind him, Baker says he's making the changes the voters put him in office to do.

"I want to put together the best of the best, and that have the same vision of the Cherokee nation that I have and the people who voted for me have," Baker said.

Baker and former Chief Chad Smith shook hands and were cordial at the event. The restoration of the building - and the creation of the museum - started under the previous administration.

Now that he's in office, Baker said he's focused on dealing with the federal funding crisis created by the freedman controversy.

"That's part of the Congress and it's in court, and that's part of what we've inherited and what we'll deal with," he said.

Baker's Chief of Staff said 6 top managers were fired and three others were put on administrative leave. Chief Baker calls it a realignment of the leadership.

"Other people have to go or they shift to a different position and we're looking at that as well. We've asked people to put resumes together and we'll put people where they'll be best for the Cherokee Nation," Baker said.

Baker has so far announced only one change - a chief of Staff, Chuck Hoskins. He says others are coming soon.

10/19/2011 Related Story: Cherokee Nation Swears In Baker As Principal Chief