Unity and cooperation at forefront as EBCI tribal leaders take oath of office

by Oct 2, 2023NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments

Principal Chief Michell Hicks gives his address at the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Inauguration at the Charles George Memorial Arena on the morning of Monday, Oct. 2. Seated, left to right, are Vice Chief Alan B. Ensley and his wife, Libby Ensley, and EBCI First Lady Marsha Hicks. Cherokee Tribal Court Chief Justice Kirk Saunooke is shown seated behind Chief Hicks. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photos)



One Feather Asst. Editor


CHEROKEE, N.C. – Principal Chief Michell Hicks spoke of a commitment to service and unity for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians as he addressed hundreds prior to being sworn in for his fourth term.  The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) held an Inauguration Ceremony at the Charles George Memorial Arena on the morning of Monday, Oct. 2.  In addition to Chief Hicks, other tribal leaders took their oath of office including Vice Chief Alan B. Ensley who was elected to his second term.


The following Tribal Council representatives were sworn in: Big Cove Rep. Richard French, Big Cove Rep. Perry Shell, Birdtown Rep. Boyd Owle, Birdtown Rep. Jim Owle, Cherokee Co. – Snowbird Rep. Adam Wachacha, Cherokee Co. – Snowbird Rep. Bucky Brown, Painttown Rep. Dike Sneed, Painttown Rep. Sean “Michael” Stamper, Wolftown Rep. Bo Crowe, Wolftown Rep. Mike Parker, Yellowhill Rep. David Wolfe, and Yellowhill Rep. Tom Wahnetah.

Three members of the Cherokee School Board were sworn in as well including Jennifer Thompson (Yellowhill), Tara Reed-Cooper (Big Y), and Micah Swimmer (Painttown).

Members of Tribal Council are shown with the Executive Committee prior to Monday’s event. Shown, left to right, are Yellowhill Rep. Tom Wahnetah, Yellowhill Rep. David Wolfe, Wolftown Rep. Bo Crowe, Wolftown Rep. Mike Parker, Principal Chief Michell Hicks, Painttown Rep. Sean “Michael” Stamper, Vice Chief Alan B. Ensley, Painttown Rep. Dike Sneed, Birdtown Rep. Boyd Owle, Big Cove Rep. Perry Shell, Big Cove Rep. Richard French, Birdtown Rep. Jim Owle, Cherokee Co. – Snowbird Rep. Adam Wachacha, and Cherokee Co. – Snowbird Rep. Bucky Brown.


In his address, Chief Hicks began by saying, “It is very encouraging. Where we are today is a great foundation. I want to thank Chief Sneed for his leadership over the last few years. I’ve said this for a long time – every administration gets a foundation. How we take that foundation, that’s on us. We have to make it better. We have to make it stronger…I’m very excited for this opportunity.”

On unity, he noted, “We are here today to acknowledge an eternal promise of coming together of one people – not one person, one people – and together we can create great things for future generations ahead. That is promising and that is secure.”

“We are a new generation of Cherokee people, and we must continue to maintain a common voice. A voice that is strong, and is heard, and it’s echoing throughout the territory of our ancestral lands. A voice that local, state, and federal officials hear, and they understand that this Tribe, we’re here to stay. We’re not going anywhere. And, we are poised to fight battles, whatever that battle is, that impact the well-being of our people and our sovereign status.”

Vice Chief Alan B. Ensley and his wife, Libby Ensley, are shown with EBCI First Lady Marsha Hicks and Principal Chief Michell Hicks.

He thanked the community for support.  “Our commitment to serve our community must not only be by elected leadership, but also has to be carried out by each one of our great employees. And we have a lot of great employees. But our employees have to have clear direction. We have to plan better. We have to have guidance from all of our leadership to be poised to move into the future and achieve high levels.”

“We’re not always going to agree, but we are one people. And that’s how it’s supposed to be – one people.”

Chief Hicks said he is committed to working with Vice Chief Ensley.  “We’ve known each other a long time – plenty of stories to tell. But the story that is most interesting to me is the story that we can create moving forward. It truly is. I’m looking forward to working with each one of the Tribal Council members and plan, and plan, and prepare for our future. It’s important.”

“We will strive to achieve a higher level of success than our Tribe has ever seen. We will face tremendous challenges. Those challenges, as we leave here today, they’re already on the table. But we have to address them. We have to position ourselves. And, we have to create sustainability for this Tribe. It’s not just in services, it’s in resources. We have to create sustainability.”

Chief Hicks spoke of the past foundations of the Cherokee people.  “We can continue to forge our paths in these Great Smoky Mountains and see into the future with plans of greatness for our people, the Cherokee people. We will survive. We will adapt. We will rise. And we will prosper. We will remember the pain our ancestors endured for our well-being, and we will lift them up and know that their resilient blood that was shed for us through their travels, through their fights, through their battles. We know that blood flows through our veins. If we have faith, that blood conquers fear and gives us courage to do what we have to do as tribal leaders to create a brighter future. As we unify our minds, our bodies, and, most importantly, our spirits, we can achieve greatness as Native Americans, proud Native Americans, Cherokee people.”

“I assure you; I do not take this position for granted. I’m honored to have been elected. I promise that I will maintain my commitment to this Tribe for the next four years. I will work with honor. I will work with integrity to prepare our future generations.”

Vice Chief Ensley also thanked the community for their support and said unity is of the utmost importance.  “When I was out campaigning…I made one promise and that was to always represent every enrolled member who had a card. I would represent them to the fullest extent. That’s the only promise I made, and I promised I would continue the fight.”

Three members of the Cherokee School Board were sworn in during Monday’s ceremony including, left to right, Tara Reed-Cooper (Big Y), Micah Swimmer (Painttown), and Jennifer Thompson (Yellowhill).

“I had a good friend named Bob Bradley. He always told me to represent everybody and treat everybody the same no matter what.”

Vice Chief Ensley pledged to work with all tribal leaders on a unified front.  “I look forward to working with Chief Hicks, Tribal Council. Each of us sitting up here today has the experience to lead this Tribe back to what it once was. I feel comfortable that together we can restore the unity that once was with the Tribal Executive Office and Tribal Council. I think today is the start of that new beginning.”

“You elected me to be the steward of our Tribe – our land, our language, our traditions, and culture and that’s what I will do. I will continue to do my best to protect all of those. This day is not about me or anyone sitting on this stage. This day is about every enrolled member of this Tribe and our future.”

Shawn Crowe, an EBCI tribal member, served as emcee for Monday’s Inauguration event.

Monday’s program was opened with a Welcome Song by the Krazy Nation Singers followed by the posting of the colors by the Steve Youngdeer American Legion Post 143 Color Guard and an invocation by EBCI Tribal Elder Lane Smoker.

Students at New Kituwah Academy sang the “Cherokee National Anthem” which was followed by a musical selection by Stephanie Brown Scragg, an EBCI tribal member, who was accompanied on guitar by her brother, Jeremy Brown.

EBCI Tribal Elder JC Wachacha gave the closing prayer, and Bo Taylor, an EBCI tribal member and noted culturalist, closed the program with a Cherokee Honor Song.

Following the Inauguration, Tribal Council opened its first session and selected Rep. Parker as its chairman and Rep. Wolfe as the vice chairman.

Students at New Kituwah Academy sing the “Cherokee National Anthem”.