Birth of the Cherokee Constitutional Crisis
Chronologies, timelines, news stories and press releases about the Cherokee Nation constitutional crisis began with the serving of the search warrant at the tribal complex on Feb. 25, ignoring the action or inaction that led to the search warrant. The crisis actually began when Chief Joe Byrd refused to provide contracts and financial records of tribal business to the council and the Cherokee people.
During council meetings and council committee meetings beginning in the summer of 1996, some councilmembers made repeated requests to Byrd for those documents in compliance with the Cherokee Nation constitution. In brief, Article X. Fiscal requires the Secretary-Treasurer of the tribe to provide the council with “financial statements reflecting the results of operations of all tribal activities and shall prepare a consolidated balance sheet in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles….”
Almost every request for this information, that should have been provided without the necessity of request, was refused or ignored.
Frustrated by Byrd’s failure to comply with the constitution, the councilmembers petitioned the Cherokee Nation Judicial Appeals Tribunal for a ruling on the contracts. On August 22, 1996, the Cherokee Nation Judicial Appeals Tribunal ruled that the documents were a matter of public record and should be provided to the council. Byrd and his administration still refused to provide the documents.
The ongoing refusal, combined with other information, resulted in the search warrant, a necessary last resort. Until June 20 when the Byrd administration raided the Courthouse, the tribal prosecutor had copies. Those copies were transferred to the U.S. Attorney’s office. Presumably, the FBI has copies. On the basis of those documents, Tribal Prosecutor A. Diane Blalock charged Byrd with misappropriation of funds. The FBI is still investigating. Byrd claims he has done nothing wrong, and it can all be explained by accounting errors, yet the financial records with those accounting errors have not seen the light of public scrutiny. He has pledged accountability again-and-again, yet he remains unaccountable, refusing to make the constitutionally-required information public and firing everyone who has tried to make those documents public in compliance with the constitution.
Following is a real chronology that will be refined further as we progress toward the Byrd’s removal from office, along with Deputy Chief Garland Eagle and the eight council members we will call Byrdettes for lack of a better term.
Feb. 5: Chief Justice Ralph Keen sends a letter to Byrd telling him that members of his administration had made contact with the JAT in an apparent attempt to influence the outcome of a case. Keen writes: “Please remind members of your administration that it is not proper for anyone to attempt to influence the outcome of any case.”
Feb. 24: After Byrd’s repeated refusal to produce financial records in accordance with the Cherokee Nation constitution, Tribal Prosecutor A. Diane Blalock asks Keen to issue a search warrant of Byrd’s office, which he does based upon Ragsdale’s sworn affidavit.
Feb. 25: Cherokee Nation marshals serve the warrant at the Tribal Complex, politely and peacefully gaining access to the financial records and making copies for the investigation rather than seizing the originals. Byrd claims he has done nothing wrong and fires Marshal Service Director Pat Ragsdale and Lt. Sharon Wright. Justice Dwight Birdwell reinstates Ragsdale and Wright and issues orders that anyone interfering with JAT orders and/or the investigation will be charged with contempt of court.
Feb. 26: In an effort to demonstrate employee and public support, Byrd orders all employees to attend a hastily-called press conference, where he says, “There is no need for an investigation because absolutely no money has been misused.”
Feb. 27: Ragsdale calls for assistance in the investigation from the FBI and the U.S. Attorney General’s office.
Feb. 28: In one of many attempts to take credit when none is due, Cherokee Nation Press Secretary Lisa Finley informs the media that Byrd had requested the presence of the FBI.
March 3: Ragsdale calls for a federal civil rights probe into alleged interference with him and the other marshals.
March. 4: Tribal Inspector General Bob Powell, a non-Indian and former agent with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, makes a conference call to the marshals’ office and urges five deputies to “come over” to the Byrd side and keep their jobs. During the call, Powell reveals the existence of a wiretap tape he says appeared on the chief’s desk and which he gave to the FBI claiming it supports evidence of a “conspiracy” to overthrow Byrd’s administration.
March 6: U.S. Attorney John Raley announces a federal investigation by the FBI and the Department of Interior into “recent developments” in the Cherokee Nation involving “allegations of violations of federal laws.”
March 7: Byrd holds another employees-must-attend press conference, where the spin control continues as he tells the media that he invited the FBI to investigate his spending practices. Later, the FBI confirms that Ragsdale had made the first request for the FBI to investigate, and Byrd had asked them to investigate Ragsdale. Evidence surfaces of an illegal wire-tap of the phones of the Cherokee Observer, Councilmember Barbara Starr-Scott, Robin Mayes and former-Councilmember Melvina Shotpouch. The tape is cited by the Byrd as evidence of a “conspiracy” to overthrow him and his administration.
March 8: FBI announces the wiretap was illegal and begins an investigation into the illegal tape, stating the tape shows no evidence of a conspiracy, rather it is a recording of tribal members complaining to one another about the corrupt government of the Cherokee Nation.
March 10: The tribal council approves a budget of more than $100 million, despite a lack of a full accounting of expenditures for the previous year and an incomplete listing of all sources of income for the coming year. Council says they will amend it later. During the meeting, some councilmembers vigorously question the appointment of Powell to a position never approved by the council or provided for in the constitution.
March 14: Blalock files contempt charges against Powell for violating court orders not to interfere with the Marshal Service and trying to coerce fired marshals to join Byrd’s new security force. Powell allegedly tells his staff he doesn’t have to obey Cherokee courts because he is not an Indian.
March 16: FBIEyes Cherokee Wiretaps – [**Note: Tulsa World, article references both the “March 8 FBI investigation” and “March 14 Blalock files contempt charges” items above] By AP Wire Service
March 19: Counsel Pleads Case To Tribal Justices Tulsa World article, by Rob Martindale World Senior Writer
March 20: At another press conference, Byrd says he intends to defy the orders of the JAT which he considers “illegal” or “unconstitutional.” He issues an executive order disbanding the Marshal Service and claims he has sworn in his own 17-man armed security guard. He then orders all marshals to report to him by 5 p.m. and be sworn-in as members of his security force, or they will face termination. None report. Human Resources Director Ervin Rock, Administrative Assistant Jamie Hummingbird, along with councilmembers Sam Ed Bush, Mary Cooksey, Don Crittenden and Harley Terrell, deliver letters of termination and checks to Ragsdale and Wright.
March 21: Byrd swears in six individuals for a “new tribal marshal service” to join others already sworn-in and armed. His news release says that on Feb. 26, “Byrd said he would honor the tribunal’s order to reinstate Ragsdale and Wright but changed his mind yesterday….” Birdwell says he is “dismayed and distressed” at Byrd’s conduct, but declines to cite him for contempt as he orders the immediate reinstatement of the Marshal Service. Blalock notifies the council that the records taken in the search indicate violations occurred, and federal and tribal charges could be filed. Justice Birdwell orders the tribe’s Secretary-Treasurer, Jennie Battles, and Chief of Staff George Thomas to restore services and funding of the Marshal Service by 4:30 p.m. or face the consequences. Powell sends notice on police teletype that Ragsdale and the other marshals are no longer recognized and “are not to be considered law enforcement officers.” District Attorney Dianne Barker Harrold tells sheriffs in Cherokee, Adair, Sequoyah and Wagoner counties that cross-deputization cards issued before the sheriffs took office in 1997 are no longer valid, and the marshal Service no longer has jurisdiction on non-Indian land, a curious ruling that gives Byrd another “reason” to call in the BIA police. Byrd cancels the Cherokee Marshals gasoline credit cards to fuel patrol cars and cuts off cellular phone service.
Former Chief Wilma Mankiller in a Tulsa press conference expresses alarm and concern for the Cherokee Nation and her shock that Byrd would defy the court, comparing him to a dictator from a third world country. Former Chief Ross Swimmer releases a statement in agreement with Mankiller and asks Byrd to “apologize to the court.” Byrd holds another spin-control press conference to counter Mankiller’s, but media focuses on Mankiller conference.
March 24: Chief Justice Keen issues a statement declaring “the Cherokee Nation is in a crisis” and Byrd “has set himself up as being above the law” and promises “aggressive action to restore the constitutional government of the Cherokee Nation.” Justice Birdwell orders Battles and Thomas to appear in court on Mar. 25 on charges of contempt.
March 25: Chief of Staff George Thomas and Secretary-Treasurer Jennie Battles appear before the tribunal to answer charges of contempt. Justice Birdwell reads the previous order, and Justice Keen asks if they intend to obey. After consulting with their attorney, they answer no. They are then held in direct contempt and ordered to jail for 90 days or until they obey the court orders. Less than three hours later, they are released because of document problems.
March 26: Chief Snubs Tribal Truce Offer, Tulsa World article by Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
March 27: Tribal Prosecutor Blalock files a complaint accusing Byrd of conspiring to obstruct tribal justice. Tulsa World article.
March 31: Tribal Court Fines Lawyers, Tulsa World article by Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
April 1: Cherokee Chief, Key Aide Plead Innocent Tulsa World article, by Rob Martindale World Senior Writer
April 3: Cherokee Nation Press Secretary Lisa Finley sends out a release titled “High power weapons spark concerns among Cherokees,” a potentially inflammatory release, inferring that the Marshal Service and their legal and justified armaments may be the cause of violence, beginning a pattern of blaming everyone except those responsible for the volatile situation–the Byrd administration.
April 3: Third Cherokee Official Under Fire Tulsa World article, by Rob Martindale World Senior Writer [**Note: References an arrest warrant issued for Bob Powell and the April 3 item concerning Marshal Service weapons.]
April 4: OCU Law Group to Stay Out of Cherokee Problems Tulsa World article, by World’s own Service.
April 10: Chief Puts Officials On Leave, Tulsa World article, by Rob Martindale World Senior Writer
April 10: Weapons Banned, Tulsa World article, by Rob Martindale World Senior Writer
April 11: Tribal prosecutor Blalock files a complaint accusing Byrd of diverting $64,984 to pay a Washington, D.C., law firm.
April 12: Inspector General Bob Powell resigns. Tulsa World article.
April 14: Critics Speak Out on Indian Housing Program Tulsa World article, by Wesley Brown World Staff Writer.
April 15: Coburn Offers Assistance in Cherokee Flap, Tulsa World article by, Jim Myers World Washington Bureau
April 15: On one of the darkest days in Cherokee history, Byrd hires a non-Indian attorney to provide one of the most ludicrous interpretations of a document in the history of Indian-white relations. The interpretation will ensure Byrd’s place in history as the most sinister destroyer of Native American sovereignty since Andrew Jackson. The attorney, Thomas Seymour of Tulsa, was reportedly paid from $100,000 to $300,000 for the deed. In the Seymour-Byrd ruling, Seymour offered an interpretation that could not stand up to ethical and legal analysis by the most rudimentary “LA Law” student. Article V. Legislature, Section 4, emphatically states: “No business shall be conducted by the Council unless at least two-thirds (2/3) of members thereof regularly elected and qualified shall be in attendance, which number shall constitute a quorum.” At no place in the document is this superseded, and certainly not in Section 5 of Article V, which immediately follows the ruling requiring a quorum to conduct business and which states: “Special meetings of the Council may be called:…(C) upon written request of fifty-one percent (51%) of the members of the Council….” In a quantum leap of logic that defies most imaginations, Seymour cited that section as the basis for changing the requirements to conduct business as a council or a “Council Court” from a quorum of ten to a simple majority of eight. Eight of 15 council members, in the absence of six members, vote to begin impeachment proceedings against the Judicial Appeals Tribunal. Nine of nine present vote to ask the BIA to take over the tribe’s law for a period of two months. If the federal government and Cherokees accept Seymour-Byrd law, it can be invoked again or permanently, and he and the eight Byrdettes can do virtually anything they want until the next election. But wait. Under Seymour-Byrd law, we many not have an election, if Byrd remains in office and realizes he has no chance to win in a free, democratic election. Later that night, 44 Cherokees including former Chief Mankiller and a number of tribal employees, sign on as plaintiffs in a lawsuit contending the meeting is illegal due to the lack of a quorum. (Two related Articles were found at Tulsa World.)
April 16: A petition effort to recall and/or impeach Byrd, the deputy chief and the eight Byrdettes is begun. Tulsa World article.
April 17: Chief Ordered Not to Interfere in Probe Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer
April 18: BIA Law Enforcement To Remain Two Months, Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
April 21: Turmoil Grows For Cherokees Tulsa World article by, by Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
April 21: Contempt Charges Dismissed Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
April 23: BIA Acted in Haste, Court Says Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
April 24: Tribal Prosecutor Blalock files a complaint accusing Byrd of diverting $23,419.75 in tribal funds to pay an employee assigned to work with the Democratic National Committee. Tribunal rules the April 15 meeting was illegal due to lack of a quorum.
April 25: Cherokees Find No Wiretap Evidence, Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
April 27: Although Byrd has been in office almost two years (20 months), in an interview in the Tulsa World, he continues to blame others for his failures, including former Chief Mankiller. (Related Article was available at Tulsa World.)
April 28: The illegal meeting recessed on April 15 is continued. When Cherokee attorney and constitutional scholar Chad Smith emphasizes the illegality of the meeting, Byrd’s armed security guards drag him from the meeting.
May 1: Justices Named in Charges Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
May 1: Tribal Officers Relinquish U.S. Duties, Tulsa World article by, World’s own Service.
May 2: The tribal council met and announced that they were going to change a statute from the requirement of the presence of a 2/3 majority (10 of 15) of the council to do business to a simple majority (8 of 15).
(Related Article was available at Tulsa World.
May 3: Eight of 15 members of the council conduct a “court of removal” using a plethora of frivolous charges and, in an unprecedented act, “impeach” the three justices. (Related Article was available at Tulsa World.)
May 4: Cherokee Justices Say They Won’t Step Down Tulsa World article by, Michael Overall World Staff Writer.
May 6: Changes Sought By Chief Tulsa World article by, Jerry Fink World Senior State Writer.
May 9: Cherokee Court Remains in Session Tulsa World article by, AP Wire Service.
May 12: Group Calls for Chief Byrd’s Resignation Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
May 14: Chief Cuts Off Impeached Justices’ Pay Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
May 14: Cherokee Nation Marshals file suit in federal court against the BIA, charging the agency with interfering in tribal affairs. (Related Article was available at Tulsa World.)
May 17: Cherokee Saga Continues to Churn Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
May 20: Tribe Officials Dispute Ousted Cherokee Judge’s Term Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
May 20: Byrd’s Allies Defend Ouster Of Judge Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
May 21: Chief Tries to Cut Off Utilities Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
May 22: Cherokees Seek Unity On March Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
May 23: Cherokee Marshals Restrained Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
May 27: Tribunal issues arrest warrants for Byrd and Eagle after they fail to appear on contempt charges. Byrd says he will not recognize or comply with actions of an “impeached” court. (Related Article was available at Tulsa World.
May 29: Judge Eyes His Role in Tribal Flap, Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
June 15: The Muskogee Phoenix reports that Harlan “Joe” Jones, former secretary-treasurer of the Cherokee Nation and one of Byrd’s boyhood chums, in a sworn deposition, said Byrd “indicated that I should not remember everything that happened” during negotiations to bring a plastics plant to the Cherokee Nation.
June 19: U.S. District Judge Frank Seay of Muskogee dismisses the lawsuit filed by the fired marshals, who alleged the BIA wrongfully intervened in tribal law enforcement. (Related Article was available at Tulsa World.
June 20: Byrd’s security guards, apparently aided by the BIA and local law enforcement, take over the Cherokee Courthouse in an early morning raid, citing Seay’s ruling in the Cherokee Marshals’ case as justification. When Chad Smith attempts to cross the police barrier surrounding the Courthouse Square, he is tackled from the rear, taken to the ground, restrained by five officers, handcuffed and arrested. Throughout the confrontation, Smith does not strike any of the officers. Files are turned over to the BIA and FBI. Byrd refuses Ragsdale’s request to be allowed to remove the personal belongings of the justices, including Birdwell’s Silver Stars and a Purple Heart earned for heroism in Vietnam and photos of his tour in Vietnam. “Impeached” justices and “fired” marshals are locked out. Byrd says the justices will be allowed to re-enter the Courthouse and their offices, and conduct business on Monday, June 23.
Detroit News *** Path to RealPlayer Video Of Chad Smith’s Arrest!
June 22: More than 700 people gather at Whitaker Park in Pryor for a hog fry and fund-raiser for the Cherokee Nation Marshals, who have not received a paychecks for nearly four months. (Related Article was available at Tulsa World.
June 23: Justice Philip Viles Jr. and Court Clerk Gina Waits go to the Courthouse in order to conduct the business of the Judicial Appeals Tribunal. Clint Vernon, head of Byrd’s security force, stops them from entering the building and informs them that if they don’t leave they will be arrested. (Two Related Articles were available at Tulsa World.)
June 30: Attorney General Drew Edmondson says cross deputization agreements between the Cherokee Nation marshals and state and federal agencies remain in effect, overruling District Attorney Dianne Barker Harrold’s conclusion that they were not, which was one of the reasons Byrd used to bring in the BIA police. Edmondson’s ruling was based on what he called an “obvious principal of law,” citing the Supreme Court of Washington’s decision in Board of Directors Kennewick School District v. Black in 1955, and concluded “There is…no automatic withdrawal from the agreement simply because an individual officeholder of a compacting agency leaves and another individual takes his or her place.”
July 9: Byrd fires Tribal Prosecutor A. Diane Blalock through a one-page notice from Shawn Terry, assistant personnel manager, “because of job abandonment.”
July 11: A BIA public affairs officer informs the media that the BIA has spent $196,525 of taxpayer’s monies during the past ten weeks to provide police services and support for Byrd’s administration. The BIA public affairs officer said $159,363 had gone for the marshals’ hotel bills, meals and communications equipment. The remaining $37,162 in salaries was kept low because, Gonzales said, “We have had, on a rotating basis, essentially just two additional officers.”
July 14: Cherokee Elder Paul Thomas informs the council that Justice Birdwell’s service medals and other personal belongings had been returned to Birdwell by mail, but they were intentionally damaged and defaced while in the hands of Byrd’s security force. A collective moan of disbelief fills the council chambers when Thomas makes the revelation, and, during the discussion, councilmembers Mary Flute Cooksey and Harley Terrell, a veteran, walked out of the meeting.
July 16: News reports announce the Oklahoma Bar Association is investigating allegations that Tulsa attorney Thomas Seymour has had a bar complaint filed against him as a result of his interpretation of the Cherokee constitution on April 15.
July 29: With former Sequoyah County Times writer Lynn Adair waiting in the administrative offices to fill a position in the tribe’s Public Affairs Department, the public affairs staff are informed that all are being “laid-off” except the clerk-typist, effective 5 p.m., Aug. 15. Four of the six are tribal members. Department Director Dan Agent, who has been excluded from all public affairs decisions, is placed on administrative leave beginning at noon, July 30. Adair is brought to the office of public affairs on Aug. 4 and seated in the former director’s office.
Aug. 10: Judicial Appeals Tribunal orders the “fired” marshals to take back the Cherokee Courthouse at noon on August 13, 1997.
Aug. 12: Byrd swears in 10 “new marshals.” U.S. Justice Department and U.S. Department of Interior recognize the Judicial Appeals Tribunal as legal court of the Cherokee Nation, saying only the BIA police have the authority to enforce tribal law until further notice. Yet, the BIA police fail to enforce the tribunal’s orders. When the council deadlocks 7-7 in a meeting, Deputy Chief Eagle casts the deciding vote, denying Councilman Harold “Jiggs” Phillips motion to “reinstate” the justices. Councilman Bill John Baker refers to the justices as “you boys” and “idiots,” prompting former Deputy Chief John Ketcher to call it an all-time low and disgraceful behavior by a council member. Byrd tells a reporter that he should be able to hire and fire at will to ensure that loyal people are working for him. Byrd tells the council that he had fired a lot of people recently and plans to fire more.
Aug. 13: When refused entry to the Courthouse, Ragsdale tries to force his way in. In the resulting melee, six people are injured, including women who are thrown off of the Courthouse back porch, as officers from five counties, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the BIA police help Byrd’s security force maintain control of the Courthouse.
Aug. 14: The day before their lay-off begins, the five members of the public affairs staff still on duty are informed that their lay-off date has been changed to Aug. 29.
Aug. 21: Twenty-five people file two lawsuits in federal court for more than $1 million, alleging civil rights violations and that state and federal officials, including District Attorney Diane Barker-Harrold; the sheriffs and Boards of County Commissioners for Adair, Cherokee and Sequoyah Counties; Perry Proctor; Jim Fields and Ada Deer of the BIA; the Tahlequah City Police; and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, illegally barred tribal members from access to their Courthouse on June 20 and Aug. 13.
Aug. 22: In an attempt to settle the crisis before Congress takes action, Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt holds a meeting in Washington, D.C., with Byrd, Attorney General Janet Reno, BIA head Ada Deer, Councilmen Harold DeMoss, Harold “Jiggs” Phillips, Charles Hoskin and Don Crittenden. After the eight hour meeting, Babbitt informs the media that it appeared an agreement had been reached until Byrd refused to recognize the tribunal as the Cherokee Nation court and refused to agree to the return of all marshals to work with back pay.
Aug. 23: Media reports that Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., expressed his ongoing concern, saying Byrd is the cause of the problem and referring to him as a dictator.
Aug. 24: Media reports Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., says he will ask President Bill Clinton to remove Byrd from office. After walking out of the Aug. 22 meeting, Byrd decides to return to Washington, reportedly calling council members while he is en route to the airport in Tulsa. He and some council members arrive in Washington for another meeting with Department of Interior.
Aug. 25: Byrd, the council members and Babbitt sign an agreement that calls for the “reinstatement” of Ragsdale and the other marshals with back pay. Ragsdale is placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the Massad report. The Massad group investigation by three attorneys non-Indian attorneys with no connections to the Cherokee Nation was commissioned by the tribal council. The agreement calls for the opening of the Cherokee courthouse on Aug. 27 and the return of the Justices to their roles as the tribe’s Judicial Appeals Tribunal, pending the opinion of the Massad report as to the legality of the “impeachment” and a temporary moratorium, which may be only a few days, on further legal action. Many tribal members remain angry that a non-Indian panel is being utilized to determine the legality of an “impeachment” that is obviously illegal, as well as the placing of Ragsdale on administrative leave, which for the Byrd administration, is usually the preliminary action to termination. (Related Article was available at Tulsa World.)
Aug. 26: The Massad report is released. It invalidates the “impeachment” of the Judicial Appeals Tribunal, concluding that “Any business conducted by this council with less than two-thirds present is not valid.” In contravention of the Seymour-Byrd ruling and statements by Byrd and his spin nurse, the Cherokee Nation Judicial Appeals Tribunal was never impeached. (Related article was available at Tulsa World.)
Aug. 27: Report Backs Marshal Firings “Impeachment of Tribal High Court Justices Termed Improper” Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer
Aug. 28: Cease Fire, Tulsa World article by, World’s own Service “All Oklahomans have a stake in the peaceful resolution of the internal strife that has wracked the Cherokees’ tribal government.”
Aug. 28: Tribal Treasurer Probed In Alleged Funds Misuse, Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer
Aug. 28: Courthouse Reopened – Byrd Won’t Give Traditional Address to Tribe on Tahlequah Square: “The doors were open again Wednesday at the historic Cherokee Nation Courthouse, but Chief Joe Byrd said there would be no state of the nation address Saturday on the square downtown.” Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer
Aug. 29: Mankiller Calls for Unity “Former Chief Tells Of Facing Similar Problems in Tribe” Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale and Michael Smith World Staff Writers
Aug. 30: The Cherokees “THE RECENT TROUBLES of the Cherokee Nation tend to obscure the fact that the tribe has generally run a peaceful and usually productive operation.” Tulsa World article by, World’s own Service
Aug. 30: Panel Critical of Tribal Factions “Cherokee Nation Depends on Cooperation, Report Says” Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer
Aug. 31: Cherokees Reunite on Holiday – “Despite armed police atop buildings with binoculars to keep an eye on a peaceful parade, there were signs Saturday that a shaky truce might be developing in the strife-torn Cherokee Nation after six months of turmoil.” Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior Writer.
Sept. 7:As of September 7, 1997 Byrd still has not re-instated 7 of our Cherokee Nation Marshals. Byrd has yet to return the judicial branch files. Byrd’s illegal Tina Glory Court is still set up inside the executive branch. Byrd has demanded that requistions for checks and purchases requested by the judicial branch be sent to him by accounting for approval. The BIA are still here in charge of law enforcement. The problems are far from over, and there are many legal actions to be filed and resolved.
Sept. 10: Chief’s Peace Effort Called `Largely a Sham’ – Tribal justices send a letter to keep the heat on Chief Byrd. Tulsa World article by, Michael Smith World Staff Writer
Sept. 18: Cherokee Treasurer, Officials Talk Writer “The treasurer of the Cherokee Nation, a major target in an FBI investigation into allegations of misuse of federal funds, has been talking behind closed doors with federal prosecutors, it was learned this week.” Tulsa World article by, Rob Martindale World Senior
Sept. 21: Point of View: The Illusion Of Sovereignty, “For several months the Oklahoma Cherokees watched Principal Chief Joe Byrd almost single-handedly destroy constitutional tribal government. Although high-level federal intervention recently quashed Byrd’s rampage, the Cherokees are now wondering how to ensure that elected officials henceforth conduct tribal affairs in accordance with the Cherokee Nation Constitution.” [**Note: The Author – A graduate of Columbia, Stanford and Harvard Universities, Robert A. Fairbanks is president of the Native American College Preparatory Center in Norman. He is Leech Lake Ojibwe.] Tulsa World article by, World’s own Service
Sept. 22: Audit of Tribe Cites `Weaknesses’ – in Accounting Procedures “Deloitte & Touche auditors told the Cherokee Nation that the tribe’s weaknesses in internal accounting controls were ‘as serious as it gets.'” Tulsa World article by, AP Wire Service
Sept. 23: Cherokee Accounting Blasted “Audit of Tribe Cites `Weaknesses’ in Accounting Procedures” Tulsa World article by, AP Wire Service