, Muskogee, OK

January 31, 2013

Cherokee official killed in crash

Tribe’s secretary of state had just begun second year of term

Phoenix Staff Reports

— TAHLEQUAH — The Cherokee Nation is mourning the loss of its Secretary of State Charles Head, who died Wednesday in a collision with a tractor-trailer rig on U.S. 69 in Chouteau.

Head, a native of Pryor, was 63.

“Words cannot express how saddened we are at the passing of Secretary of State Charles Head,” said a statement by Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “Charles has been a dear friend of mine for many, many years. My heart goes out to his family and many loved ones, including his wife Frances, his children and grandchildren.

“Charles was a Cherokee statesman and ambassador for all of Indian Country. He was devoted to serving and working for the betterment of native people, first through a long career with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and most recently as our secretary of state. He was an invaluable part of my administration, and will be greatly missed by all who knew him.”

Head died Wednesday afternoon when he crashed head-on with a tractor-trailer rig. Chouteau police did not release Head’s name, but Cherokee officials confirmed that Head was the driver of the car. Police said the car was northbound and was going around a curve when the driver veered into the southbound lanes, colliding with the southbound truck.

Head began his term as secretary of state in January 2012. The office builds relationships with the federal, state and other tribal governments.

Head had a love of protection of tribal interests, music, his grandchildren and  speaking to Cherokee youth about the importance as a tribe to build strong relationships, recently attending a Teen Youth Summit in Fort Gibson.

Tina Glory-Johnson, the speaker of the Tribal Council, said: “It’s a great loss, institutional knowledge that will be hard to replace. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family. He was a good Cherokee man who had a heart for the people.”

Before taking the office, Head worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs for more than a decade, most recently as the interim regional director for the Eastern Oklahoma office in Muskogee. Before his October 2010 promotion, he was the interim deputy regional director for the same office and was the superintendent of the Miami, Okla., agency office for two years.

Head worked for the tribe previously from 1987 to 2000, in roles ranging from executive director of finance to USDA Agriculture liaison.

He was a graduate of Northeastern State University and was a Vietnam War veteran, serving in the Navy during 1970-73.