(L-R) Front row: Tribal Youth Councilors Morgan McSpadden, Mikeesha Watts, Katelyn Morton, Whitney Roach, Laurel Reynolds, Jaycee Soap, Natalie Gibson and Alayna Harkreader. Back row: Cherokee Nation At-Large Tribal Councilor Mary Baker Shaw; Tribal Youth Councilors Bradley Fields, Camerin James, Austin Jones and Chelbie Turtle; Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr.; Principal Chief Bill John Baker; Tribal Youth Councilors Destiny Matthews, Aspen Kortni Ford, Kayla Rooster, River Lantow and Christian Cooper; and Tribal Councilor Keith Austin.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation swore in its 2017-18 Cherokee Nation Tribal Youth Council Monday evening at the tribe’s headquarters in Tahlequah.
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. and other tribal leaders addressed the new 17-member Tribal Youth Council during the inauguration ceremony at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex. Supreme Court Justice Angela Jones administered the official oath of office to the youth council.
“It is always empowering and enlightening for Cherokee students to participate in the Tribal Youth Council and to be a voice for others during their term,” Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “Volunteering for public service is an important responsibility, but there is no question these 17 youth will gain a wealth of knowledge about our government and our tribe’s culture. They will also provide unique feedback to our administration and our Tribal Council and open the door for valuable dialogue between different generations of Cherokees.”
Members of the Tribal Youth Council serve a one-year term that includes volunteering and helping shape future Cherokee Nation policy. The youth will learn the Cherokee Nation Constitution and bylaws and help identify issues that impact Cherokee youth. Those issues will be passed along to the Cherokee Nation administration and Tribal Council.
The leadership program started in 1989 and has nearly 200 alumni, many of whom now work for the tribe. Youth meet monthly and serve as tribal ambassadors during their term on the council.
Katelyn Morton, a Sequoyah High School senior from Stilwell, was sworn in for her second year on the Tribal Youth Council. She enjoys following in the footsteps of her grandmother Patsy Morton, who previously served on the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council.
“Being able to serve on the Tribal Youth Council is such an honor to me,” Morton said. “My first year I got to meet so many people and travel to so many places, and not only that, but I was able to become more involved in my culture. I learned even more than I knew before. My family has been involved in the Cherokee Nation, and I want to preserve that. We should be active in our community through each generation, and it’s an honor to be continuing that.”
The 2017-18 Tribal Youth Council members:
Morgan McSpadden, Big Cabin, Rogers State University
Mikeesha Watts, Vian, Vian High School
Katelyn Morton, Stilwell, Sequoyah High School
Whitney Roach, Tahlequah, Ottawa University
Chelbie Turtle, Park Hill, Sequoyah High School
Laurel Reynolds, Claremore
Jaycee Soap, Stilwell, Stilwell High School
Natalie Gibson, Miami, Afton High School
Alayna Harkreader, Hulbert, Sequoyah High School
Bradley Fields, Locust Grove, Northeastern State University
Camerin James, Fort Gibson, Fort Gibson High School
Austin Jones, Hulbert, Oklahoma City University
Destiny Matthews, Watts, Northeastern State University
Aspen Kortni Ford, Tahlequah, Sequoyah High School
Kayla Rooster, Hulbert, Hulbert High School
River Lantow, Claremore, Claremore High School
Christian Cooper, Salina, Salina High School
Cherokee Nation News Release
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