TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — It was the final Tribal Council meeting for several elected officials Monday, as Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, District 3 Tribal Councilor David Walkingstick, District 12 Tribal Councilor Dick Lay, District 13 Tribal Councilor Buel Anglen, and At-Large Councilor Wanda Hatfield will leave office this month.

In delivering his final State of the Nation to the Tribal Council, Baker said serving as principal chief for the past eight years has been the "blessing of a lifetime."

"We focused on homes, health and hope, and I believe we are leaving the wood pile higher than we found it," said Baker. "It has been an honor to serve with each and everyone of you at this table."

Baker was first elected in 2011 and won re-election in 2015. Alongside him has been Crittenden, whom Baker said was the "moral compass" of the administration.

Crittenden has served as a tribal councilor, deputy chief, and for a brief period, principal chief.

When Baker's swearing-in was delayed until October, he served in all three roles within "less than an hour."

"We used to play a game with little kids, and we still do sometimes, where you would spin them around, and around, and around for a while, and then you turn them loose, and watch them," said Crittenden. "That's kind of the way I felt after I got sworn in."

Crittenden agreed the tribe's woodpile is bigger today than it was when he entered office, but said it wouldn't be that way without the help of everyone in the Council, Cherokee Nation Businesses, and the tribe.

In his month report, CNB CEO Shawn Slaton said the tribe's business arm plans on opening the Fort Gibson Cherokee Casino in mid-September, after spring flooding forced it to close.

Among the agenda items, the Tribal Council passed a resolution to reappoint Tommye Sue Bradshaw Wright as a board member of the CNB.

A resolution to grant an easement for right of way was passed. The easement was given for a road improvement project by the Board of Craig County Commissioners.

The council passed a modification to the operating budget for 2019, increasing it by $3,178,159.

Nearly $2.4 million of it went into the Motor Fuel Tax budget authority.

Four separate resolutions were also passed to donate surplus equipment to Cherokee County Rural Water District No. 8, Washington County Cherokee Association, Calvary Indian Baptist Church, and Native American Fellowship, Inc.

What's next

The next Cherokee Nation Tribal Council meeting is Sept. 16, at 6 p.m., at the tribal headquarters, W.W. Keeler Complex.

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