Cherokees Elect New Chief

Tuesday, July 27th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The new leader of the Cherokee nation says 4 years of tribal turmoil must end and that now is the time for making peace. Cherokees elected Chad Smith Saturday night as new Chief with 56% of the vote. So, embattled Chief Joe Byrd is out. Both Smith and Byrd agree it's time to put the past to rest. As Chad Smith supporters cheered their new Chief, song was heard across town at outgoing chief Joe Byrd's watch party. And when the singing stopped, the mood among Chief Byrd's supporters was solemn. The outgoing chief tried to lift their spirits with words of encouragement. "Let's continue to support the Cherokee Nation because our ancestors have worked hard to make it what it is. Let's support unity, let's support harmony," says Byrd. The chief's four years were anything but harmonious as fighting spread throughout the tribe. Chief-elect Smith, one of many who disagreed with Byrd's politics, joined the fray himself. Now, he too says it's time to unite. "The turmoil is over. I think the healing begins. One of the first things I am going to to is ask Chief Byrd to help in that process," says Smith. Byrd says he'll be happy to help. "And they are going to find, once they get in there. Wow, how good we have it. The files are going to be there, I am not going to take any files and the money is there," says Byrd. Many Cherokee voters believe the fighting will end if both leaders stick to their word. "I think it will because this is what people want and it is going to be over," says a Cherokee voter. The real test begins when Smith takes office August 14th. Smith's running mate, Hastings Shade defeated Bill John Baker in the race for deputy Chief.