New deputy chief says teamwork key to success
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation’s newest deputy chief says he’s focused on supporting the newest principal chief while helping enrich the lives of tribal citizens.
“I’m excited to see how we can improve,” Deputy Chief Bryan Warner said.
Warner, 42, was elected June 1 along with his running mate, Chuck Hoskin Jr., the tribe’s new principal chief. One of Warner’s primary goals is “being there for the chief, to support him,” he said.
“(Hoskin) has kept me in the forefront of everything and let me add my thoughts to the process of what we’re doing,” Warner said. “That means a lot to me. We believe in being strategic in any process we do. I think it helps to have a chief and deputy chief on the same page.”
Hoskin replaced Bill John Baker, who termed out as chief after eight years. Warner replaced S. Joe Crittenden, a former tribal councilor who spent eight years as deputy chief before reaching his term limit.
“Chief Baker and Deputy Chief Crittenden, they laid a lot of good groundwork. I’m excited to be able to close the loop on some of the things they started,” Warner said, adding that Baker, “always set the tone looking seven generations ahead.”
Warner served one term as the Dist. 6 representative before voters elected him deputy chief over challenger and former Tribal Councilor Meredith Frailey.
“It’s been an honor, and it is a privilege to serve on here,” he said at his final meeting as councilor Aug. 12. “I look forward to continue working with each and every one of you because, the last I checked, we’re all Cherokee and we all serve one another. I think that’s the thing to remember.”
A former college science instructor, Warner worked at Carl Albert State College in Sallisaw as campus director, a position he left to serve as advisor to the chief.
“This is all new for me,” Warner told CN employees at a recent gathering. “As of July 31, I officially left Carl Albert State College as their campus director. It’s kind of strange waking up and not going to a place that you’ve been for the last 10 years. But it’s exciting times. I was excited in December when (Hoskin) and I decided to run together.”
The Hoskin-Warner team has already announced several “first 100 days” initiatives that include an increase in the tribe’s minimum wage from $9.50 to $11 an hour and a $30 million plan to rehabilitate homes for elderly, disabled and low-income Cherokees.
Other areas of importance, Warner said, include health care, education and preservation of Cherokee culture.
“Some things will be over time,” he noted.
In his new post, Warner hopes to “be a leader who empowers others and supports the conviction that we all have a divine purpose.”
“The Cherokee Nation is a work in progress, constantly evolving, and it is still not complete,” he said after being sworn in along with Hoskin on Aug. 14. “We believe in its greatness because it was built by the people we loved and respected – our ancestors. Those who persevered to manifest one of the most important qualities in any life – resilience.”
Warner resides in Sallisaw with his wife, Maco, and three boys, Kaden, Luke and Clayton. After graduating from Sallisaw High School in 1995, Warner earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in education.