Walkingstick gives thanks during his final Tribal Council meeting
TAHLEQUAH – After eight years of Tribal Council service, David Walkingstick, representing Dist. 3, gave his public goodbyes on Aug. 12 during his final meeting before terming out.
Walkingstick was elected to the Tribal Council in 2011 by winning a runoff against Mark Vance. In 2015, he gathered more than 50 percent of the vote against four challengers in the general election to preserve his incumbency.
“Coming in at 29 years old to the Tribal Council was definitely a learning experience,” Walkingstick told his colleagues. “God appoints us all to these positions, and we get into these positions because we want to make it better than the way we found it.”
During this past election season, Walkingstick’s campaign for principal chief ended when he was disqualified, and there were occasions during the election year when sparks flew in his exchanges with other councilors. But during his farewell, he expressed appreciation for his fellow councilors.
“I thank God for each and every one of the council members that I had the opportunity to cross paths with,” he said. “I see strengths in every one of you. I know some of us have had differences. I ask that we don’t take anything personal just because we have differences. At the end of the day, I still love you.”
As he presently leaves CN politics, Walkingstick encouraged the new councilors to work with those returning to enhance the lives of CN citizens.
“I hope you guys on the Council right now conduct yourselves in that same grace and mercy with your colleagues; your other council members,” he said. “We’re here for one common goal, and that’s our people and a love of those people. We all have 17 different personalities, and God made us that way, and he made us in his image. He loves us, but he wants us to love everyone else, too. I encourage you guys to move forward.”
Walkingstick also expressed his appreciation to the CN employees for their efforts.
“The employees of the Cherokee Nation – you guys are awesome,” he said. “You guys are amazing people. You guys that have been employees for 30-plus years – I envy you. I want to be in your shoes so badly.”
Walkingstick’s path between graduating from Sequoyah High School and being elected to the Tribal Council was not one of decades. He emerged from SHS in 1999 – the school’s first All-State basketball player. He then played basketball at Connors State College and Oklahoma Baptist University, and earned his master’s degree from East Central University. Only a few years later, he was on the Council.
“As a young kid, I grew up in this Cherokee Nation,” Walkingstick said during his farewell. “My father was the chief of the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service, and he would follow (former Principal Chief) Wilma Mankiller around. That was my upbringing. I never knew that guy had plans for me to be where I am today, but God did. And going to Sequoyah High School – this whole experience has been unreal.”
Walkingstick closed his speech by stating he loved the Cherokee people’s passion, and that he knew all on the Council and in attendance “has experienced those things of being Cherokee and what it is to be Cherokee.”
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he said. “Thank you for allowing me to be a council member, and to serve this Council, to serve the Cherokee people and to serve the employees.”