By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The 28th Principal Chief and Vice Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians as well as the new Tribal Council and three Cherokee Central Schools Board of Education members were sworn-in at the EBCI Inauguration event at the Charles George Memorial Arena on the morning of Monday, Oct. 7.
Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed and Vice Chief Alan B. Ensley were sworn in as well as the following members of the 2019-21 Tribal Council: Big Cove Rep. Perry Shell, Big Cove Rep. Richard French, Birdtown Rep. Boyd Owle, Birdtown Rep. Albert Rose, Cherokee County – Snowbird Rep. Adam Wachacha, Cherokee County – Snowbird Rep. Bucky Brown, Painttown Rep. Tommye Saunooke, Painttown Rep. Dike Sneed, Yellowhill Rep. David Wolfe, Yellowhill Rep. Tom Wahnetah, Wolftown Rep. Bo Crowe, and Wolftown Rep. Chelsea Saunooke. The new CCS Board of Education members include: Jennifer Thompson (Yellowhill), Regina Ledford-Rosario (Painttown), and Tara Reed-Cooper (Big Y).
Vice Chief Ensley thanked everyone in attendance during his inaugural address and noted, “I want to thank my big family. They support me in good times and in bad times. I want to thank my children. I could be worn out from a day’s work and they always encourage me…I wouldn’t be standing here today without the help of my wife. She works just as hard as I do on a daily basis.”
He thanked the community members for their support in the election and during his last two years as Vice Chief. “Today is not about me, the Chief, Tribal Council, nor School Board. This day is about our Tribe, the enrolled members of this Tribe. We all ran for public office hoping that we could make a change. Hopefully, in the next four years we can make a change and serve the people and improve the quality of life for every enrolled member on the reservation.”
Vice Chief Ensley added, “One of the first vows I made when I entered office was to be present in every community and hear the concerns and needs of every enrolled member of the Tribe. I made a pledge when I went in that my door would always be open and it has, and it will continue to be open.”
In his inaugural address, Chief Sneed spoke of hope, the need to honor Cherokee ancestors and traditions, the importance of fiscal responsibility for the future of the Tribe, and the absolute need to put resources and efforts into the preservation and revitalization of the Cherokee language.
He asked for daily prayer support for himself and all tribal leaders and their families. “Nobody can truly know the burden of leadership and public service until they have lived it. Serving in public office can be a very demanding job. The stress and pressure does not stay with the elected official alone. Please be mindful that it is our families who serve with us and who bear the burden of office as well.”
Chief Sneed said, “I am pleased to say that I have never been more hopeful about the future of our Tribe than I am right now. We have a Tribal Council and Executive Branch that understands the absolute necessity of progress on many fronts and that are willing to make the decisions to ensure the prosperity, both culturally and economically, for our Tribe.”
He said himself and all tribal leaders will need support from tribal members. “It is imperative that we do not give in to the voices of fear and opposition, but instead we look toward the future with not only our present personal best interests in mind, but more importantly the interest of our future generations of Cherokees.”
Chief Sneed said it is important to leave a legacy of self-service and sacrifice for future generations. “Let us harken back to the voice of our ancestors. Let us hear what their spirits are saying to ours. There was a path of great uncertainty set before them at the time of Removal. Our ancestors chose a path of resistance and resilience. I am sure there were times that they were fearful, but they could not turn back. There was only one path set before them and that path is forward.”
Responsible fiscal management will be the primary goal for Chief Sneed’s upcoming term he told the crowd. “Every program, every service, employment opportunity and benefit is directly tied to our finances. We’ve already begun this course over the last two years by submitting budgets for Fiscal Years 2019 and 2020 that were the most fiscally responsible budgets in over a decade coming in at 82 percent and 80 percent of gaming projections. We must make it our objective to ensure that the benefits and, more importantly, the opportunities that we enjoy currently will be available to the generations who come after us. To do so, we must be responsible with our spending, our savings, and with our investments.”
Chief Sneed spoke of the importance of language revitalization. “Most importantly, we must preserve our language.”
He said all tribal leaders will work together in this effort. “We will make the resources available to make sure of the survival and proliferation of our language, period. However, resources alone are not enough. If our language is to thrive, it will require a comprehensive and strategic plan, but more importantly, a commitment from all Cherokee citizens.”
Chief Sneed concluded his address by saying, “And so it is now that we begin this journey together. The tasks set before us are great, but I am fully convinced and have the greatest confidence that by working together for the greater good and truly coming together as a Tribe, we will not only achieve our objectives, we will exceed all expectations.”
The Steve Youngdeer American Legion Post 143 Color Guard posted and retrieved the colors during the event. Alfred Welch opened the event with an invocation and Ben Reed closed with the benediction. The New Kituwah Academy Singers sang the “Cherokee National Anthem” at the beginning of the program, and the Cherokee Chamber Singers sang “Amazing Grace” at the end.
To view or purchase photos from this event, visit: https://onefeather.smugmug.com/COMMUNITY-and-NEWS-EVENTS/2019-Community-Events/Eastern-Band-of-Cherokee-Indians-Inauguration-October-7/