Council approves Chief Hoskin’s Cabinet nominees
New Attorney General Sara Hill and other Cabinet members are congratulated Aug. 29 after being confirmed to their new posts. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – Tribal Councilors in a special Aug. 29 session confirmed Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.’s Cabinet, select the tribe’s first secretary of Veterans Affairs and officially launched a $30 million housing initiative.
Hoskin and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner named their Cabinet selections in July, a month before they took office. The full Tribal Council supported their recommendations on Aug. 29.
“I have done my level best to assemble a team that will fulfill the mission that we all have, which is to serve the Cherokee people,” Hoskin said.
Cabinet members consist of five new appointees and current Marshal Shannon Buhl, who was selected by former Principal Chief Bill John Baker.
Sara Hill, the tribe’s previous Natural Resources secretary, was appointed as the attorney general, replacing Todd Hembree, who told councilors his successor “will protect this Nation.”
Hill is a former deputy attorney general who in 2015 was confirmed as the Nation’s first Natural Resources secretary, a constitutionally created position.
“It is a humbling experience to be asked to serve in a position like this,” Hill said of her new job. “I had a very sleepless night thinking about the responsibility that it carries with it because I take it extremely seriously. You’ll certainly have my best effort on everything that I do like you always have.”
Hill represented the tribe in the Cherokee Nation v. Sequoyah Fuels case, which permanently disposed of 12,000 tons of radioactive material in Sequoyah County to an offsite location. Hill serves on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Indian Country Energy and Infrastructure Working Group and was recognized in 2019 with an EPA Environmental Excellence Award. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Northeastern State University and law degree from the University of Tulsa.
The new Natural Resources secretary is Chad Harsha, who previously worked as assistant CN attorney general and general counsel for Natural Resources.
“I appreciate the opportunity to serve my tribe in this way,” he said. “This is the work I’m passionate about doing, and I truly love coming to work every day. We’ve made a lot of progress in these initiatives underneath the secretary of Natural Resources Office over the last four years. I look forward to the years ahead.”
Harsha also represented the tribe in the Sequoyah Fuels litigation.
“He has worked as assistant attorney general for the Muscogee Creek Nation and as a litigation attorney in the private sector,” a news release states. “He has a bachelor’s degree in environmental management from Northeastern State University and a law degree from the University of Tulsa.”
Replacing Hoskin as secretary of state is Tina Glory Jordan, a former tribal councilor who was appointed by the late Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller to serve as a District Court judge.
At an earlier Rules Committee meeting, new Dist. 3 Tribal Councilor Wes Nofire brought up the fact that Jordan’s husband, Rex Jordan, is a councilor.
“I think that’s something that has to be addressed on this council with this appointment nomination,” he said. “We have Tina, who is highly respected and by all means qualified. But she is married to one of our council members. That does raise some questions and concerns.”
Glory Jordan said she and her husband leave business at the office.
“I’ve spent almost 40 years as a lawyer, and I think my husband knows less about my law practice than anybody in town,” she said jokingly. “As to what is a conflict, this body has determined that in Title 28, Section 19 of the code, the laws that you have made, that there is no conflict. I hope that I can gain each one of your favor to vote for me. I will have an open-door policy for all of you.”
In her favor, councilors voted 16-0 with one abstention from Rex Jordan.
Tralynna Scott was appointed as the new treasurer, replacing Lacey Horn, who stepped down in May to spend more time with family.
“When I went to law school, I certainly didn’t foresee myself ending up here,” Scott said. “But the happiest paths are usually winding ones.”
Scott worked for Cherokee Nation Businesses for more than a decade, most recently as its corporate tax director. She also served as the lead attorney on taxation for CNB.
“I think what makes me uniquely qualified for this position is that I not only have the financial management experience, but I also have the legal experience,” she said.
During the earlier Rules Committee meeting, Nofire questioned the nominee.
“I did my research on what our treasurer is going to be doing,” he said. “From previous Human Resources and our job description that we actually have, or that I actually had them look up, is that they’re required to have a CPA and maintain a CPA in order to be able to qualify for this job. Is there a reason why that’s not qualified in this position now?”
Answering “as the person who nominated” Scott, Hoskin said he looked “to the Constitution as the binding legal authority for this position.”
“Secondarily I would look to statutes, and in a third instance, I would refer to job descriptions as guidance,” he said. “But I’m certainly not going to let a job description trump the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation. The most important thing is whether the person is qualified and meets the basic qualifications under the Constitution, and then possesses the skills to execute the job. I’m supremely confident that Scott does that.”
Scott has a bachelor’s degree in business administration accountancy from the University of Notre Dame and a master of business administration in taxation and law degree from the University of Tulsa. She said she possesses educational requirements for a CPA, but “just never had the need to take the CPA exam to get certified.”
“So, now having been nominated for this, if this body confirms me today, it is my intention to go and sit for the CPA exam to get that certification,” she said.
The tribe’s new chief of staff is Todd Enlow, who replaces Hoskin’s father, Chuck Hoskin.
Enlow worked in CN management for two decades in government relations, education, environmental, geo data and as a management resources group leader and information technology director.
“He was a coordinator of the ‘Remember the Removal’ Bike Ride, a former operations director at Northeastern State University and vice president of Armstrong Bank,” a news release states. “He has a bachelor of science in engineering design from Northeastern State University.”
S. Joe Crittenden, who just left office as the tribe’s deputy chief, was appointed to a new Cabinet-level position called secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Councilors also approved one of Hoskin’s first initiatives in office, the Housing, Jobs, And Sustainable Communities Act Of 2019, a $30 million plan to rehabilitate homes for elderly, disabled and low-income Cherokees.
Kimberly Teehee was also confirmed as the tribe’s delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, enacting a treaty provision that the tribe has never enforced.
Teehee is the CNB vice president of government relations and a former adviser to President Barack Obama. The congressional delegate provision is outlined in two treaties with the U.S. government, in Article XII of the 1785 Treaty of Hopewell and in Article VII of the 1835 Treaty of New Echota. It is also outlined in the tribe’s 1999 Constitution.
According to the 1999 Constitution, a delegate will participate in congressional activities, advocate for the best interest of the Cherokee people, make reports to the Tribal Council and principal chief on congressional activities and administrative matters in relation to federal law and policy and produce an annual report to the Cherokee people.
Teehee now begins a long process of obtaining a delegate seat in Congress, Hoskin said.
“It will be a process of educating members of what our rights are and working through that process,” he said Aug. 22. “This will be the first time that an Indian nation has sent a delegate to Congress. It’s certainly the first for Cherokee Nation. Kim Teehee, in addition to being someone who could serve as delegate, also is the natural person to shepherd us through this process.”
Also on Aug. 29, current Registrar Frankie Hargis was reappointed to her post.