Baker Takes Oath

Tahlequah, OK – Okla. tribal court dismisses election appeal

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) The former principal chief of the Cherokee Nation has conceded defeat after the tribe's Supreme Court dismissed an appeal to prevent his opponent from being sworn in as the new chief.

Chad Smith said in a statement on Wednesday that he acknowledged Bill John Baker's victory and offered to help him. Baker was scheduled to take the oath of office Wednesday night.

The court dismissed Smith's motion to stop Baker from being sworn in until a federal court decides whether descendants of slaves once owned by tribal members are Cherokee citizens. Results certified last week showed Baker beat Smith 10,703 to 9,128.

The descendants, called freedmen, were allowed to vote while a lawsuit over the issue is pending.

The election was ordered after initial balloting in the race was invalidated.