By Teddye Snell
TAHLEQUAH — Since taking office in late 2011, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker has said on many occasions that all Cherokees “come from one fire.”
Cherokee citizens reside throughout the U.S., and those living outside the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction are considered “at-large.”
Baker has made it a point to make connections with at-large citizens, hosting 15 community meetings in Kansas, Florida, Arkansas, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Washington, D.C. and Texas.
Baker said he believes reaching out to at-large citizens is important for a variety of reasons.
“It is important that all citizens be informed of what is happening with the Cherokee Nation,” said Baker. “People need to see their elected leaders firsthand, and that’s why we travel to three at-large Cherokee communities many times a year.”
Baker said at-large citizens are a vital part of the tribe’s government and critical to its success.
Linda Willard, at-large citizen from Phoenix, Ariz., recently expressed concern about the chief’s nomination of Tahlequah resident Roy Hamilton to the Cherokee Nation Community Association. She said one of the major contact points for at-large citizens is the CNCA, and believes Hamilton is a poor choice for a nominee.
Hamilton recently withdrew his nomination, however, and a new candidate has yet to be named.
Willard said citizens in her area are hoping Baker will consider New Mexico resident and at-large citizen Harvey Yocham.
According to the tribe’s communication staff, the board of CNCA consists of five primary officers, along with two at-large council representatives who serve in non-voting positions.
Teddye Snell writes for the Tahlequah Daily Press.