Walkingstick resigns as Muskogee School’s Indian Ed director
TAHLEQUAH – Tribal Councilor David Walkingstick’s recent resignation as director of Indian Education at Muskogee Public Schools was accepted during a Jan. 23 MPS school board meeting.
The board’s vote to accept Walkingstick’s resignation follows a story on a Muskogee-area news website that states Walkingstick claimed work time at MPS while attending Cherokee Nation functions.
According to the story, between August and December Walkingstick was allegedly observed working as a Tribal Councilor when he was being paid to be working for the school. According to the story, one example included Aug. 14, 2015, the day on which he was sworn in as Dist. 3 Tribal Councilor but schools records show him at the school all day.
According to an agreement between MPS and Walkingstick posted with the story, Walkingstick was to be paid $17,528 upon the resignation’s execution for him to “release” the district of any claims or liabilities, including unemployment payments.
Walkingstick’s resignation also follows a petition presented to the school board in early December by the Descendants of the Cherokee Freedmen regarding whether his desire as a CN elected official to appeal a federal court ruling that gives Freedmen CN citizenship would conflict with his role as MPS Indian Education director and result in conflict and discrimination against Freedmen students.
The DCF organized the petition after learning Walkingstick had drafted a bill asking the CN attorney general to appeal the Aug. 30 federal court ruling that allowed Cherokee Freedmen descendants the right to CN citizenship.
However, Walkingstick said his stance on the appeal of the courts ruling isn’t about race, but about tribal sovereignty.
“We get Indian education services due to our tribal sovereignty. That’s something the Indian people hold dear to, is our sovereignty. You either sit on your sovereignty or you exercise your sovereignty. I feel like as an Indian tribe, the Cherokee Nation, we should have the ability to determine our own citizenship as an act of sovereignty,” he said.
Walkingstick said following his resignation from MPS, he would devote his time to being a full-time Tribal Councilor.
“I have a lot of projects going on right now on the Tribal Council that requires 100 percent of my time,” he said. “I stepped down from my school position so I could spend more time focusing on my capacity as a Tribal Councilor.”
The Cherokee Phoenix reached out to MPS officials for comment, but had not received a response as of publication.