Secretary of Natural Resources Sara Hill receives Towering Spirit Award


(L-R) Keep Oklahoma Beautiful President Shanon Phillips, Keep Oklahoma Beautiful Executive Director Jeanette Nance, Cherokee Nation Secretary of Natural Resources Sara Hill, Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment Michael Teague.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Nation Secretary of Natural Resources Sara Hill was honored with the Towering Spirit Award during the Keep Oklahoma Beautiful 28th Annual Environmental Excellence Celebration Nov. 30 in Edmond.
Hill was appointed by Principal Chief Bill John Baker in 2015 as the tribe’s first Secretary of Natural Resources, a cabinet position. Since then, she has championed reducing the Cherokee Nation’s carbon emissions in new and innovative ways such as building the state’s first tribal solar canopy car charging station and securing grants that allowed the Cherokee Nation to be the first tribal government in the U.S. to buy all-electric transit buses.
Secretary Hill also led efforts that resulted in 10,000 tons of nuclear waste recently being removed from the former Sequoyah Fuels Corporation site near Gore. She helped establish the Coordinating Council on Poultry Growth with the state and launch the Cherokee Fish and Wildlife Association.
“Secretary Hill has so much passion for the environment, and she gets to take her passion to work every day to do great things for future generations of not only Cherokees, but for Oklahomans and people in this entire region,” Chief Baker said. “She is always on the lookout for anything that will help our environment and reduce our carbon footprint. She is very deserving of this honor, and I’m proud to see her hard work is being recognized by Keep Oklahoma Beautiful.”
The Towering Spirit Award is given to a person, program, business or organization that is upholding the mission of Keep Oklahoma Beautiful in a unique way while garnering public acclaim and having a far-reaching, positive impact.
“I am very honored to have received this recognition from Keep Oklahoma Beautiful. I believe protecting our natural resources is tied directly to protecting our Cherokee language, our culture and our history,” Secretary Hill said. “Natural resources don’t respect any boundaries, they don’t understand any political ideologies, and so we need to leave these ideas behind when we talk about protecting the environment. What's good for Cherokee Nation is good for Oklahoma, and the reverse is true. After all, it’s the same land, it’s the same air, it’s the same water. I’m proud to be a part of protecting the Cherokee Nation and our state in ways that will have an impact for many generations to come.”
Secretary Hill is one of six individuals or groups honored with a board commendation award during the Environmental Excellence Celebration.
Keep Oklahoma Beautiful is a statewide nonprofit recognizing Oklahomans who help preserve and enhance the state’s natural beauty while ensuring a healthy, sustainable environment.
“Here at Keep Oklahoma Beautiful, we are about communities, not profit,” said Executive Director Jeanette Nance. “When disconnected people come together as a community with a cause, we change the face of Oklahoma. I absolutely love this event where we can honor so many deserving individuals and groups for the good they do all across our state.”
Secretary Hill lives in Tahlequah with her husband, Jerry Starkey, and son, Landon.
For more information about Keep Oklahoma Beautiful or the award, visit

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