Chad "Corntassel" Smith, former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation
November is Native American Month, and Chad "Corntassel" Smith, former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, will speak about the status of Native American culture today during a visit to Limestone College on November 7.
His presentation, which begins at 7:00 p.m. in Fullerton Auditorium, is free and open to the public. His visit is made possible by Limestone's Chaplain's Office.
Smith is a descendant of the leaders of the Original Keetoowah Society who fought to keep tribal traditions and culture alive. Smith's great-grandfather was Redbird Smith, a Senator of the Cherokee Nation in 1896 and a famous Cherokee traditionalist who fought the government allotment policy under which the U.S. took over 7,000,000 acres of land from the Cherokees.
Known as the "Renaissance Chief," Smith is dedicated to the renewal, preservation, protection and renaissance of Cherokee history, language and culture. He envisioned and coordinated the 1843-1993 International Indian Council. The event celebrated the 150th anniversary of the original conference called by John Ross, renewing the international leadership of the Cherokee Nation among tribes.
According to his biography, Smith places priorities on tribal government and individual self-sufficiency. He believes that the Cherokee Nation and its history and culture are a legacy that enriches our lives, family and community.
In his administration's Declaration of Designed Purpose he said, "It (our nation) gives us strength in times of challenge, it gives us comfort when we are weak, and it gives us a sense of identity and value. It sustains us and gives us direction. We have a ‘designed purpose.' We must make strategic decisions to ensure that in one hundred years we will have descendants that joyfully and gratefully receive that legacy, individuality and as a Nation, to face adversity, survive, adapt, prosper and excel."
Highly respected as Indian legal scholar, Smith has fought for tribal sovereignty and stood up for Indian rights for the last 15 years. He has consistently donated his time as a practicing attorney to helping tribal elders, children and families. He has also taught college-level courses in Indian law and history around the country, including Indian law as a visiting professor at Dartmouth. He has written college curriculum in tribal operations and authored a 600-page course book on Cherokee Legal History. Smith places education at the top of his administration's priority initiatives and has begun future plans to establish a tribal college in the Cherokee Nation.
Smith holds an MBA in Public Administration, BA in Education, and a Juris Doctorate. Prior to his election as Principal Chief, he served under two Cherokee Nation Chiefs as Director of Tribal Planning, Legal Historian, Attorney, Cherokee Nation Prosecutor, Director of Justice and Advisor to the tribal tax commission.