Principal Chief Chad Smith has a rich family history of service to the Cherokee people. He is the great-grandson of Redbird Smith, a Cherokee Nation Senator and a patriot who fought against allotment of Cherokee lands. His grandmother, Rachel Quinton, was a life-long advocate for the Cherokee people.
Chad Smith holds a Bachelor of Arts in education from the University of Georgia, Master of Business Administration degree in public administration from the University of Wisconsin, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa.
The majority of his professional life has been dedicated to service to Indian people. He is a renowned speaker, educator and constitutional scholar and has written curriculum for tribal operations and a Cherokee history text.
The Cherokee people elected him Principal Chief in 1999 and re-elected him in 2003 and 2007. He is committed to the revitalization of our language, traditions, culture, and the preservation of tribal history. He has fought for tribal sovereignty and stood up for Indian rights for many years. He believes strongly in the concept of ga-du-gi, coming together to work for the good of all Cherokees.
Prior to his service as Principal Chief, Smith taught Indian law at Dartmouth College, Northeastern State University and Rogers State University. He served as a Cherokee Nation prosecutor and an administrator of the Cherokee Nation Tax Commission. He also worked as director of planning, legal historian, attorney, and director of justice for the Cherokee Nation. He is a former prosecutor in Creek County, served as a public defender in Tulsa County, and operated his own law practice.
Smith’s wife, Bobbie Gail Scott Smith, is a full-blood, bilingual Cherokee from the Rocky Mountain community of Adair County. A former Miss Cherokee, she teaches the Cherokee language and is part of the first class of students working toward a four-year degree in Cherokee education at Northeastern State University. She and her husband are active in the preservation of Cherokee language and culture.