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Walkingstick announces campaign for Cherokee Nation chief

Published 2/7/19

Kinsey Shade

TNE Writer

David Walkingstick, a Cherokee Nation tribal councilor currently serving a second-term, announced he is running for principal chief on Tuesday, January 29. Walkingstick spoke to a roomful of Cherokee citizens and supporters during his kickoff event in Tahlequah. 

“After many prayers and visiting with family, elders and people across my district and outside, I have committed to the call,” said Walkingstick. “I am announcing my candidacy for the principal chief of Cherokee Nation.”

Walkingstick is a Tahlequah native and a graduate from Sequoyah High School. He attended the University of Central Oklahoma where he played collegiate basketball. Walkingstick earned a master’s degree in school administration and was elected councilman for District 3 in 2011.

At his campaign kickoff Walkingstick shared his plans if elected principal chief. He said his priority is Cherokees living within the 14-county jurisdictional boundary, accountability, transparency, jobs and financial sustainability, language revitalization and cultural restoration. 

Walkingstick opened the campaign with his stance on the forgotten and neglected Cherokee citizens that live within rural Cherokee Nation.

“When you go out into the heart of Cherokee Nation you see our people living in dilapidated conditions,” said Walkingstick. “People are getting turned down from contract health. It becomes a disservice and we’re not serving Cherokees the way we need to be serving them.”

He said the economic development within the last few years has left millions of dollars to universities, states, corporations and entities, including politicians. He said if this direction continues the tribe will continue to slip further away from the Cherokee Nation.

Walkingstick said some of the biggest issues in Cherokee Nation are the financial responsibilities they are facing. Walkingstick believes politicians are putting their self-interests above citizens. 

“We gave 8 million dollars to the state of Arkansas for a gaming compact and have come out with nothing,” Walkingstick said. “We could had kept money such as this and given toward scholarships or given money to keeping our doctors.”

Walkingstick said 140 doctors have left because they are not being paid enough. He said the new health facility being built in Tahlequah is a great challenge for filling positions when keeping doctors in Cherokee Nation is already difficult. 

“In order to bring Cherokee Nation back home where Cherokees are helping Cherokees instead of Cheorkees helping non-Cherokees and them getting prosperous off it, we got to make a change here June 1 of 2019,” said Walkingstick. “It starts off with you guys, the Cherokee people, standing up and being a voice and demanding your tribe to come back to you.”

Walkingstick stressed honesty and accountability. 

“We will be transparent,” said Walkingstick. No more dark-room deals. Everything will be done in the light. We will be financially responsible, and we will make better business investments that will put Cherokees to work. I will be a people’s chief.”

After his announcement, Cherokee citizens and supporters shared their thoughts on the event.

“The turnout was great,” said Jana Taylor, Locust Grove resident. “It was a comfortable and causal environment. It was great seeing people from different towns coming together. Walkingstick is a true product of his environment. He was raised up in the area around the tribe.”

Taylor said she has known Walkingstick for a while and knows he wants to help the Cherokee people with education and housing.

“Someone working for the people is what Cherokees are looking for,” said Taylor. “We need someone to listen to us and to have an open door policy to understand the Cherokee people’s needs.” 

Others attendees shared the importance of voting after the event. 

"It is not just an obligation to get out and vote but is our duty as native youth to vote for our community, family and future," said Nicollette Littlecook, Tahlequah sophomore. "Our elders have already paved a road for us. We need to take the responsibility and practice our rights as a sovereign nation by getting out and voting." 

Find out more about David Walkingstick at Follow his Facebook page at “Walkingstick for Chief” or call him with any questions or concerns at 918-822-4681.

For more information about how to register to vote in the Cherokee Nation tribal elections, call the election commission at 918-458-5899.

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