, Muskogee, OK

June 15, 2013

Former chief seeks Council spot

By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer

— One in a series of Cherokee Nation Tribal Council candidates.

Incumbent Joe Byrd is one of two people seeking election to the District 2 seat of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council.

He will face candidate Tamsye Dreadfulwater on June 22.

Byrd said he is seeking re-election because he wants to continue to work with the Cherokee people in making progress in programs for tribal members.

Byrd was elected to his seat to fill a vacancy created by the election of Principal Chief Bill John Baker.

Byrd has experience serving in numerous positions within the nation’s government and outside of the nation, he said.

In addition to serving as principal chief, Byrd has served as chairman of the Cherokee Education Committee, serves on the Oklahoma Native Culture Board, the planning committee of the National Indian Policy Center, is vice president of the Cherokee Nation Higher Education Foundation, on the board of directors of the Native American Diabetes Association, delegate to the Inter-Tribal Council, and delegate to the National Congress of American Indians.

“Each of these different opportunities have not only given me the opportunity to give something back, but afforded me the opportunity to work with different groups of people from different walks of life and a wide variety of personalities,” Byrd said. “In essence, it gives me the experience to bring people together, find common ground and move our nation forward.”

Byrd said the greatest priorities for District 2 are health care, scholarships and housing.

“As a councilman, I have supported every effort to expand our clinics, build a new hospital, and increase health care for our people,” he said.

During his term as chairman of the Education Committee, the nation has increased the total number of scholarships for students, the dollar amount per scholarship, and allowed more students than ever to attend college, Byrd said.

He has also supported the Baker’s efforts to reactivate the Housing Authority.

Byrd said his life experiences have prepared him for the challenges facing the Cherokee Nation.

“One of the greatest gifts my mother passed to me was the Cherokee language,” he said. “It is with great pride that I am the only member of the Tribal Council who speaks our native tongue. That unique ability allows me to seek the guidance and advice of our elders before I take any action.”

Byrd said his work with youth also helps him connect to a new generation of Cherokees.

“So, when I make decisions about the direction our Nation should go, I have listened to two very distinct and important groups of Cherokee people,” he said. “This makes me the best choice for District 2.”

If elected, Byrd plans to continue in the same direction, he said.

“It is important that we elect people who will lock arms and work with other people to create a better quality of life for our citizens,” he said.

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or

Cherokee Nation Council election


• June 15, 18, 19, 20 — In-person absentee voting at Cherokee Nation election office.

• June 22 — General election.

INFORMATION: or (918) 458-5899 or (800) 353-2895.

Meet Joe Byrd

OFFICE SOUGHT: Cherokee Nation Tribal Council, District 2.

Age: 58.

Hometown: Tahlequah.

Family: One son, two daughters.

Occupation: Cherokee Nation Tribal Council member, consultant.

Education: Masters degree.

Religious Affiliation: Baptist.

Hobbies: Mentoring Native American youth, exercise, golf, fishing and collecting Native American art.