Serving on council was ‘dream come true’ for Adair County rep

Tribal Councilor Canaan Duncan on Oct. 1, 2020 helps unveil plans for a transitional housing facility in Stilwell for victims of domestic abuse.

STILWELL – Even though Canaan Duncan won’t be continuing his role on the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council, he’s proud of what was accomplished since elected in early 2019.

“My time in office has been a trying time in the Nation with the COVID pandemic,” he said. “I’m proud to be a part of a group that helped citizens in one of the most trying times in our Nation’s history. I also am proud to say that I focused on working together with everyone in the common interest of our citizens.”

Duncan, 30, of Stilwell, is one of two Adair County representatives on the council. His area, Dist. 7, covers the western side of the county, including Stilwell. One of the youngest citizens to be elected to Council in modern history, Duncan won the January 2019 special election to fill the unexpired term of Frankie Hargis, who was appointed the Cherokee Nation’s new registrar. Duncan secured nearly 66% of the vote against two challengers.

“It’s something I always wanted to do since I was in high school,” he said of becoming a tribal councilor. “I felt a calling towards it. I wanted to help people and be a part of impacting our Nation.”

Duncan’s term will end in August. Duncan said he decided not to run for reelection so he could spend more time with family.

“I have a young family and quite honestly it’s been hard to be with them as much as I’d like,” he said. “Being on the council is rewarding, but also very consuming. I felt it was best to focus on my family while my kids are young.”

During his time in office, it was “always a great feeling to help people,” Duncan said.

“I enjoyed meeting and hearing from citizens,” he added. “It has truly been a dream come true to be able to serve on the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council and to serve all Cherokee Nation citizens.”

His advice for CN citizens who live “in a growingly hectic world” is to “take the time to reflect on how we treat one another.”

“People will disagree with one another, but that does not mean we have to hate or be ugly to one another,” he said. “If I could leave Cherokee citizens with one thing, it would be to love each other as we love ourselves.”

Duncan and his wife, Keeli, have a 7-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son.

“I hope to continue working for my tribe,” Duncan said. “It is all I’ve ever done and all I’ve ever known. My goal is to make an impact on the Cherokee nation, but also devote my time to my family.”

Duncan’s successor on the council will be either Joshua Sam or David Comingdeer, the top two candidates in the June 5 election. That race will be decided July 24 in a runoff election.

Sam, of Stilwell, received 497 votes (49.31%) in the election. Comingdeer, of Spade Mountain, received 450 votes (44.64%). A third candidate, Gena Kirk, of Stilwell, received 61 votes (6.05%).