6835 Valjean Avenue
Van Nuys, California 91406
As "dress down Friday" continues to sweep the nation, casual clothes are becoming more important. Now, corporate America is learning what CHEROKEE customers have known for years. When it comes to casual dressing--no one does it better than CHEROKEE!
History of Cherokee Inc.
Cherokee Inc. is a licenser whose namesake brand appears on clothing, housewares, accessories, footwear, and other consumer goods in retail outlets around the world. During the first half of its 26-year history, the company evolved from a tiny shoe repair shop into a highly profitable, multimillion-dollar manufacturer of shoes and apparel. Heavy debt from a management-led leveraged buyout in the late 1980s led to multiple bankruptcy reorganizations. In the mid-1990s, the scaled-back company staked its future on the cultivation of the Cherokee label as a "megabrand" and the creation of a global licensing operation. In the process, Cherokee's sales have shrunk from a high of $236.9 million in 1991 to just under $14 million in 1995. After scoring annual profits of more than $10 million in the late 1980s, the firm failed to record a single year in the black from 1990 to 1995.
Corporate Foundations in 1970s
Cherokee was founded in 1971 by James Argyropoulos. With his family--including a twin brother--"Argy" had emigrated to Chicago from Greece in 1958 at the age of 14. Over the next four years, he learned the English language in high school and the shoemaking trade from his father. But Argy was not interested in becoming a cobbler when he graduated. At 18, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as an electric guitarist for a rock 'n roll band. He chased that dream for about four years, until the financial demands of a new wife and baby drew him back into the footwear business.
Argyropoulos launched a shoe repair shop in 1968, and like his father before him was soon selling custom-made footwear to "hippies and flower children" from his Venice, California, garage. His comfortable leather and wood shoes, sandals, and clogs were embellished with hand-painted symbols. Especially popular was a geometric Indian motif. With orders growing, Argy founded the Cherokee Shoe Co. in 1971 and incorporated two years later.
Over the course of the 1970s, the twenty-something entrepreneur expanded his line to include sandals with an injection-molded sole known as the "Beep Bottom," as well as closed shoe lines. With orders from national department store chains like Macy's, Bloomingdales, and Dayton-Hudson, Argyropoulos was able to increase his production to 1.5 million pairs per year. Sales volume tripled from 1979 to nearly $34 million in 1980. It was around this time that the entrepreneur decided to pursue a major brand extension.
Union with Robert Margolis in 1983
Argyropoulos found a like-minded entrepreneur in skiing-buddy-turned-business-partner Robert Margolis. Margolis brought with him another partner, Jay Kester, and about a decade of experience in the bargain clothing segment. The three formed a joint venture, Cherokee Apparel Inc., in 1981. In acknowledgment of his new colleagues' expertise in the clothing industry, Argyropoulos put up 75 percent of the start-up funds, but only kept a 55 percent stake in the new affiliate.
Writing for Forbes magazine in 1986, journalist Ellen Paris described Argyropoulos and Margolis as "a natural fit," noting that "Margolis' contacts with the apparel buyers opened up shelf space for Cherokee shoes at important accounts like Burdine's in Florida. And Argyropoulos' shoe account contacts cleared rack space for Margolis' apparel lines in a chain like Nordstrom."
Growth Follows 1983 Initial Public Offering
With a focus on women's and children's apparel, sales at the new affiliate soon outstripped shoe revenues, growing from $15.1 million in 1983 to $51.6 million in 1984. In 1983, Argyropoulos took Cherokee Shoe public and used $5.3 million of the $9 million proceeds to retire short-term debt and acquire the remaining 45 percent of Cherokee Apparel Corp. he did not own. The initial public offering was structured so that the principals would gain some cash without relinquishing control: the founder retained a one-third stake in his company, his twin brother Arthur Argyris (who had Anglicized his name) held another 10 percent, and Margolis (who became president of the reincarnated Cherokee Inc. in 1984) owned about 6 percent.
The partners used several strategies to bring their brand to national status in the early 1980s. National advertising via print and television helped support the company's business with nationwide department stores. Argyropoulos also hoped to expand a fledgling chain of Cherokee stores from its roots in California into a nationwide chain of 100 franchised outlets by the end of the decade.
By mid-decade it was apparent that brand licensing had become a very successful and prolific program. In exchange for a royalty of 7 percent--2 to 3 percent of which was earmarked for the corporate advertising budget--Cherokee sold other clothing manufacturers the right to use the trademark and Indian head logo on everything from menswear to accessories and children's clothing. By 1986, the company had over a dozen licensees, including international affiliates in New Zealand, Australia, and Canada.
In keeping with its thoroughly American name and image, all of Cherokee's clothing and footwear was made in the U.S.A. (The company did make a brief stab at importing, but soon found that Californian immigrant labor made up for its relative expense with quick turnarounds and reliable quality.) At the time of the merger, the company's sales ratio was about 60 percent shoes, 40 percent apparel. Within two years, that equation was turned on its head, with 65 percent of sales generated from women's clothing. Along with this corporate transformation came skyrocketing annual sales and a mounting stock price. Revenues tripled from $33.97 million in 1980 to $104 million in 1986, and net income multiplied tenfold, from $690,000 to $6.8 million during the same period. A tripling of Cherokee's stock price during this period left some analysts eagerly speculating that the apparel company was "another [Liz] Claiborne."
Forbes's Paris wrote admiringly of Argyropoulos' innate business sense, noting that while he was "only" a high school graduate, he was "what many eager business school applicants think they can somehow learn to be--a successful entrepreneur, creator of a dynamic business. We wish them luck. Entrepreneurs of this type are born, not made." Of course, Paris could not have predicted that those "eager business school" types would later cut the natural out of his own company.
Early in 1986, Argyropoulos announced ambitious financial performance goals for the remainder of the decade, among them 20 percent annual sales and earnings growth. That April brought a secondary equity offering totaling 2.5 million shares, 700,000 of which had been held by the principals. The cash-out reduced Argyropoulos' stake to 15 percent, while Argyris and Margolis held on to 1 percent each. Cherokee used part of the proceeds to purchase a controlling interest in clothing manufacturer Code Bleu from Bayly Corp. in December 1987 and outright control of shoemaker Pallmark International two months later.
Cherokee exceeded its founder's goals in fiscal 1987 (ending November 30), achieving year-over-year increases of 34 percent in sales and 53 percent in earnings. And while sales growth fell somewhat short of projections, at 16.6 percent on the 1988 fiscal year (which, since it ended May 31, overlapped the previous period), profits continued their upward climb at a 23 percent rate, to $12.8 million. It was the most prosperous 12 months in Cherokee's history, and would be its last profitable year for quite some time.
Leveraged Buyout in 1988
With the aid of investment firm Deutschman & Co.'s Green Acquisition Co., Cherokee president Robert Margolis led a corporate mutiny against Jimmy Argyropoulos in May 1988. The $150 million, $12.50 per share bid offered to exchange shares in the newly-formed Green Acquisition for Cherokee shares held by officers and directors Margolis, Jay Kester, and Cary Cooper, making them the principal officers of the privately-held Green in the process. The offer made no mention of Argyropoulos, even though he continued to own about 14.5 percent of the company.
When a special committee of Cherokee's board of directors rejected the bid in June, the executives--this time joined by Argyropoulos--brought a second, $13 per share, $156 million, offer to take the company private. By July, however, Argy had defected, asserting that the high debt the managers would have to assume in order to buy out their fellow shareholders would hamstring the company and require severe layoffs and other cutbacks. The special committee of the board agreed and rejected this second offer in August.
The third time proved a charm for Green Acquisition. In September, its $173.6 million bid for control was approved over the "nays" of Argyropoulos and a small cadre of loyal directors. Unwilling to admit defeat, the founder sought a "white knight" and solicited a court injunction to block the takeover, but both efforts were fruitless. Argy resigned from Cherokee that October, no doubt taking some solace in a $31 million settlement.
Margolis and company's leveraged buyout proceeded in two steps: in October 1988, the group paid about $84.7 million for a 50 percent stake. Green acquired the remaining equity for $13.99 per share ($12 cash and an unsecured $1.99 per share bond) and merged the company in May 1989. This privatization process was financed almost entirely with debt, loading Cherokee with over $170 million in long-term liabilities. Interest on the loans was set at 15.75 percent.
Losses, Bankruptcy Reorganizations in Late 1980s, Early 1990s
Debt service proved a powerful impetus for growth in the post-LBO era. Cherokee adopted several new strategies and revised some old ones in its quest for increased cash flow. In an effort to raise sales volume, the clothing company began to lower its wholesale prices and concentrate more on mass merchandisers like Mervyn's and Wal-Mart, and less on its traditional department store customers. A long-resisted shift to overseas production helped cut production costs. Cherokee vastly increased its licensing programs as well, accumulating a total of 26 licensees authorized to make everything from belts to beach towels by 1989. Overseas licenses were a particular focus. By the end of the decade, the company had added affiliates in Mexico and Japan. Corky Newman, president of marketing and licensing, predicted that "The Cherokee label will be a dominant label in the Nineties and the Nineties is a decade of the megabrand," in a September 26, 1989 WWD article. The company also boosted its advertising budget from about $3 million in 1990 to $7 million in 1991.
While these efforts succeeded in increasing Cherokee's sales from $156.2 million in fiscal 1988 to over $236.9 million in fiscal 1991, the company lost over $2 million in the ensuing years, ending the latter year with a "negative tangible book value of $126.2 million." Despite an injection of cash from a public offering of 2.5 million shares at $6.50 each in early 1991, the company continued to struggle with its debt. In November 1992, Cherokee missed an interest payment on the $105 million liability that remained, and was forced to enter Chapter 11 bankruptcy negotiations with its creditors. The company emerged from the proceedings June 1, 1993, having reduced its annual fixed charges by $14 million.
Margolis resigned Cherokee's chairmanship and chief executive office that November, citing familial responsibilities and a desire to "pursue other entrepreneurial opportunities." Jay Kester, Margolis's long-time partner and Cherokee's president of worldwide marketing, followed suit later that month, giving virtually identical reasons for his departure. The board of directors selected Bryan Marsal, a management consultant, to act as interim CEO and hired Joseph M. Elles as president. Formerly general merchandising manager at Lee Apparel Co., Elles implemented several strategies in the hopes of getting Cherokee back on track.
A label overhaul abolished Cherokee's Indian-head logo, which Elles thought was inappropriate for the politically-correct 1990s. In an effort to streamline production, he eliminated 75 percent of the company's styles to focus primarily on jeans. He also instituted a market research program, increased the advertising budget, and raised inventory levels to better serve the department stores that he hoped to target. As he told WWD's Janet Ozzard in January 1994, Elles had high hopes for Cherokee, noting that "it would be a disappointment if we did not run substantial double-digit [sales] growth" in the ensuing year. But these hopes evaporated along with Cherokee's revenues in the ensuing months. Results for the year ending May 31, 1993, showed a 19 percent decline in sales to $157.3 million and a near-doubling of its annual shortfall to $20.3 million. The disparity only grew worse in the following year, with revenues declining to $114.1 million and a $24.8 million loss. Elles resigned in November 1994 as the company once again sought bankruptcy protection.
His successor, Jim Novak, joined WWD's Kim-Van Dang in blaming high inventory costs for pushing the company into its second bankruptcy reorganization in as many years. Commenting for an April 1995 article, Novak said that "It was not a bad idea, but this company is not financially structured to handle [costly inventories]. The support was not here for him." Novak resurrected Cherokee's Indian-head logo and planned to reinstate many of the company's trouser and shirt lines, but early in 1995 former chairman and CEO Robert Margolis re-emerged with a radically different idea.
Licensing Sole Focus Beginning in 1995
By this time, Margolis had accumulated about one-fourth of Cherokee's devalued stock via an investment group. It only seemed natural for him to accept bondholders' requests that he reprise his role at the troubled company's helm. He started with a corporate "garage sale," pawning off everything from sewing machines to buttons and even the proverbial "garage," a 110,000-square-foot factory. Margolis used the $20 million proceeds to eliminate Cherokee's remaining debt. The elimination of all manufacturing operations shrunk the company's payroll from over 400 in 1993 to less than two dozen in 1995 and reduced its overhead to less than $2 million.
Margolis based his new strategy, which he dubbed "private label with a label," strictly on licensing the Cherokee brand and logo. But the company would not limit its client base to manufacturers, as it had in the past. Instead, it sought "strategic alliances" with retailers, to whom it would license the brand for whole categories of soft goods. This tactic followed the successful lead of such retailer-owned brands as J.C. Penney's Arizona and Wal-Mart's Kathy Lee. Cherokee's first major deal in this vein, a 1995 agreement with Dayton Hudson Corporation's Target chain, guaranteed it a minimum of $5.5 million in royalties for the fiscal year ended that May.
By 1997, Margolis could point to several signs that his innovative program was succeeding. The company had about 30 licensees, several of whom had confidently signed on since the latest corporate reincarnation. In January, the company announced net income of $2.8 million on sales of $3.7 million for the six-month period ending November 1996. The company optimistically instituted a quarterly dividend early that year, and forecast that it would have $8 million cash and be unencumbered by debt at year-end (May 1997).
Related information about Cherokee
A North American Indian people, originally from the Great Lakes,
who migrated to the SE after their defeat by the Iroquois and
Delaware. Evicted from their land when gold was discovered on it,
15 000 were force-marched W by 7000 US troops (the ‘trail of
tears’, 1838–9). The survivors were settled in Oklahoma with Creeks
and other SE tribes who were moved there by the US government in
the 1830s. They speak an Iroquoian language. They are now the
largest Indian group in the USA, numbering c.730 000 (2000
For other uses, see Cherokee
The Cherokee, or .
Bands and naming
Nations and Bands recognized by the United States government,
and representing 250,000 Federally recognized Cherokees, have headquarters in
Oklahoma (the Cherokee Nation and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians) and at
North Carolina (Eastern
Band of Cherokee Indians). State-recognized Cherokee tribes
have headquarters in Georgia, Missouri and Alabama. Other large and small non-recognized Cherokee
organizations are located in Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and other locations in the United
A 1984 KJRH-TV documentary,
Spirit of the Fire, explored the history of the Keetoowah
Nighthawk Society, and their preservation of the traditional
ceremonies and rituals practiced and maintained by the Cherokee
after their arrival in Oklahoma. Today there are seven ceremonial
dance grounds in Oklahoma and these either belong to the Keetoowah
tradition or the Four Mothers Society.
The spelling "Cherokee" was once believed to be due to the Cherokee
language's name, "Tsalagi" (???) - this then may have been rendered
phonetically in Portuguese (or more likely a Barranquenho dialect,
since de Soto was Extremaduran) as chalaque, then in French
as cheraqui, and then by the English as
The Cherokee language does not contain any "r" based sounds, and as
such, the word "Cherokee" when spoken in the language is expressed
as Tsa-la-gi (pronounced Jah-la-gee or Cha-la-gee) by native
speakers, since these sounds most closely resembleSouthern Cherokee
group did speak a local dialect with a trilled "r" sound after
early contact with Europeans of both French and Spanish ancestry in
Georgia and Alabama during the early 1700s. The ancient Ah-ni-ku-ta-ni dialect
and Oklahoma dialects do not contain any 'r' based sounds.
The word "Cherokee" is a derived word which came originally from
the Choctaw trade
Language and writing system
The Cherokee speak an Iroquoian language which is polysynthetic and
is written in a syllabary invented by Sequoyah. It is now believed that a more ancient
Syllabary that predated Sequoyah and may have inspired his great
work for the Cherokee people was handed down through the Ani Kutani, an ancient
priesthood of the Cherokee people.
For years, many people wrote transliterated Cherokee on the
Internet or used poorly intercompatible fonts to type out the
syllabary. However, since the fairly recent addition of the
Cherokee syllables to Unicode, the Cherokee language is experiencing a
renaissance in its use on the Internet.
The Cherokee nation was unified from a society of interrelated
city-states in the early 18th century under the "Emperor" Moytoy, with the aid of an
unofficial English envoy, Sir Alexander Cumming. The title of
Cherokee Emperor, however, did not carry much clout among the
Cherokee, and the title eventually passed out of Moytoy's direct
One of the most important trading relations between the early
European colonies and the Cherokee was the deerskin trade, which
peaked around 1750.
Beginning at about the time of the American
Revolutionary War (late 1700s), divisions over continued
accommodation of encroachments by white settlers, despite repeated
violations of previous treaties, caused some Cherokee to begin to
leave the Cherokee Nation. Other Cherokee leaders who lived in
Arkansas were The Bowl, Sequoyah, Spring Frog and The Dutch.
By the late 1820s, the Territory of Arkansas had designs on
acquiring the land held by the Arkansas Cherokee. Those who stayed
on the old Arkansas Cherokee Reservation lands have lobbied the US
Government since the early 1900s to be considered a Federally
recognized Cherokee tribe. Today, there are thousands of Cherokee
living in Arkansas or Southern Missouri who are relatives of these
pre-Trail of Tears Cherokee. Mails, "Myths of The Cherokee" by
Ross was an important figure in the history of the Cherokee
tribe. Despite a Supreme Court ruling in their favor, many in the
Cherokee nation were forcibly relocated West, a migration known as
the Trail of
Samuel Carter, author of Cherokee Sunset, writes, "Then ...
Since then, Amazing Grace is often considered the Cherokee National
Once the Cherokees reached Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), tensions ran high and the suspension of
the Cherokee Blood Law
was ignored. On June 22,
1839, after the adjournment
of a tribal meeting, some of the prominent signers of the Treaty of New
Echota were assassinated, including the drafter of the Blood
Law, Major Ridge,
along with John Ridge
and Elias Boudinot. The Cherokees were one of the five
"civilized tribes" that concluded treaties with, and were
recognized by, the Confederate States of America.
In 1848 a group of Cherokee
set out on an expedition to California looking for new settlement lands. The
expedition followed the Arkansas River upstream to Rocky Mountains in
then followed the base of mountains northward into present-day
Wyoming before turning
westward. William Holland Thomas, a white store owner and state
legislator from Jackson County, North Carolina helped over 600
Cherokee from Qualla Town (the site of modern-day Cherokee, North
Carolina) obtain North Carolina citizenship. In addition, over
400 other Cherokee hid from Federal troops in the remote Snowbird
Mountains of neighboring Graham
County, North Carolina, under the leadership of Tsaliwww.cherokee-nc.com/history.php?Name=Tsali (the subject
of the outdoor drama Unto These Hills held in Cherokee, NC).
The United Keetoowah Band took a different track than the Cherokee
Nation and received federal recognition after the Indian
Reorganization Act of 1934.
The Modern Cherokee Nation
The modern Cherokee Nation in recent times has excelled and has
experienced an uprecedented expansion in economic growth, equality,
and prosperity for its citizens under the leadership of Principal
Smith, with significant business, corporate, real estate, and
agricultural interests, including numerous highly profitable casino
operations. The Cherokee Nation controls Cherokee Nation
Enterprises, a very large Defense contractor that creates
thousands of jobs in Eastern Oklahoma for Cherokee Citizens.
The Cherokee Nation hosts the Cherokee National
Holiday on Labor
Day weekend each year and 80,000 to 90,000 Cherokee Citizens
travel to Tahlequah, Oklahoma each year for the festivities. The
Cherokee Nation hosts and sponsors historic foundations concerned
with the preservation of Cherokee Culture, including the Cherokee Heritage
Center which hosts a reproduction of an ancient Cherokee
Village which is open to the public. The Cherokee Heritage Center
has numerous museum exhibits which is also open to the
The Cherokee Nation also supports the Sundance and Cherokee Film
Festivals in Tahlequah, Oklahoma and Park City, Utah, and provides
programs and resources for Native American film makers to
particpate in the motion picture industry.
Cherokee Freedmen Membership Controversies
On March 7, 2006, the Cherokee Nation announced that the
Cherokee Freedmen, the descendents of African Americans who were
Citizens of the Cherokee Nation and who were adopted into the tribe
after the Civil War, are now eligible for membership as Cherokee
Citizens because they were classified by the Federal Government as
Indians by being entered on the Dawes Commission Lands rolls during
the early 1900s www.cherokee.org/docs/news/Freedman-Decision.pdf. The
Cherokee in ancient times did not view a person's race as relevant
regarding adoption into Cherokee Society, and historically viewed
the Cherokee Society as a politically rather than racially based
organization. The Cherokee Freedmen, due to intermarriage with the
Cherokee, are for the great majority also of Cherokee Blood and
ancestry. There are many exceptionally talented Cherokee artisans
of Freedmen descent who currently reside within the Cherokee
Nation. The Cherokee Freedmen suffered many of the same hardships
as other Indian groups because of their Cherokee Citizenship at the
turn of the century and were viewed by the Federal Government as
Indians, which led to the freedmen being placed on the Dawes
Commission Rolls as Cherokee Citizens during the early
Many Cherokee traditionalists have opposed granting tribal
membership to the Freedmen; The Cherokee Nation Supreme Court
recognized the unique role of the Freedmen in Cherokee history and
the mutual hardships and common experience with the Cherokee People
during pre-Oklahoma Statehood in rendering its decision, and upheld
the Cherokee Nation Constitution guarantees of equal rights for all
The Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation recently announced that
due to issues raised by the Cherokee People the issue of the
membership of the Freedmen was being considered for a vote
regarding proposed amendments to the Cherokee Nation Constitution.
Currently, the Cherokee Nation Constitution restricts who may serve
as an elected official to persons of Cherokee blood. Some Cherokee
traditionalists do not share the views of the Cherokee Nation
Supreme Court that the Freedman descendants contributed to Cherokee
culture and society in modern times, and oppose granting the
Freedmen membership in the Cherokee Nation.
United Keetoowah Band Lawsuits and Litigation with the Cherokee
The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, also
referred to as the UKB, have repeatedly sued the Cherokee Nation
demanding the ceding of tribal land allotments and monetary damages
over a variety of issues. The UKB also recently sued the Cherokee
Nation for a share of HR Bill 3534, a bill that required the
Government of Oklahoma and the United States to compensate the
Cherokee Nation and was concerned with the illegal seizure of the
Arkansas Riverbed by the State of Oklahoma for public use lands and
hydroelectric power generation. During the State of Oklahoma
lawsuit pertaining to the UKB's illegal casino operations (see
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians for more
information regarding the State of Oklahoma prosecution of the UKB
for operating illegal casinos), the UKB again sued the Cherokee
Nation demanding cessation of tribal land allotments to the UKB to
build casinos. These lawsuits were also dismissed, and it was ruled
the UKB is not the successor of right to the assets of the Cherokee
The UKB more recently held banishment proceedings against Chief
Chad Smith, Chief of the Cherokee Nation who also had dual
membership in both the UKB and the Cherokee Nation. Since the UKB
scheduled the banishment proceedings at the exact time scheduled
for the Cherokee Nation State of the Nation Address by the
Principal Chief at the Cherokee National Holiday, the entire
proceeding was perceived as a public spectacle by the majority of
the Cherokee People and garnered disdain and disbelief. Chad Smith
criticized the UKB for disgracing the Cherokee People and behaving
like a "social club" in response to their actions.
Modern Cherokee Societies, with the exception of the UKB, are true
democratic societies which no longer allow banishment of tribal
Although the UKB administration is widely criticized by the
Cherokee People at large, many of the UKB members are spiritual
leaders of the Cherokee People and are highly respected. Many
highly respected and revered Cherokee traditionalists within
Oklahoma are members of both the UKB and the Cherokee Nation.
Cherokee Nation Relationship with the Eastern Band
The Cherokee Nation has announced and participated in numerous
joint programs with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and
participates in cultural exchange programs and joint Tribal Council
meetings involving councilers from both Cherokee Tribes which
addresses issues which affect all of the Cherokee People. Unlike
the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians
adversarial relationship with the Cherokee Nation between the
administrations of both tribes, the Eastern
Band of Cherokee Indians interactions with the Cherokee Nation
presents a unified spirit of Gadugi with the leaders and citizens of the Eastern
Band. Many elders of the Eastern Band reside in Cherokee Nation
communities and are highly respected by Cherokee Nation Citizens
across the United States. Go-hi-yu-gi is a Cherokee term
which means to show mutual respect for an elder of the Cherokee
People or such a show of mutual respect between Cherokee
Marriage Law controversy
On June 14 2004, the Cherokee Nation Tribal
Council voted to officially define marriage as a union between man
and woman, thereby outlawing gay marriage. citation needed
Chief Joe Byrd's 1997 Cherokee Nation controversies
Chief Joe Byrd, elected 1995 as Principal Chief of the Cherokee
Nation, was nearly responsible for the destruction of the modern
Cherokee Nation due to issues related to his veracity which almost
cost the tribe its future and Sovereignty.
Joe Byrd was the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1995 to 1999
and was defeated by Chief Chad
Smith in the 1999 Cherokee Nation Elections. Byrd's forces
boarded up the Cherokee Nation Courthouse and Judicial Department
after these institutions attempted to indict and subpoena him for
illegal diversion of Cherokee Nation Funds. Byrd attempted to run
for re-election of the Cherokee Nation in 2003 and was again
defeated by the incumbent Principal Chief Chad Smith in a near
For more information, see Joe Byrd
Famous Cherokee politicians include Chad
"Corntassel" Smith, Wilma Mankiller and Ross Swimmer. Oral Roberts, twentieth century evangelist and
founder of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is a
card-carrying member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, but many
say he is also Cherokee.
Notable Cherokee Descendents
- Joe Byrd, Former Chief, Cherokee Nation. Attempted to
overthrow the Cherokee Nation Government in the early 1990s which
resulted in deployment of Federal Troops by the United States to
restore order on Cherokee Nation Tribal Lands. Was also accused
of embezzlement of Cherokee Nation funds by the Cherokee Nation
- Bryan Callen,
- Ronii Musician
(Mixed African American, Irish, Cherokee, Seminole)
- Cher, of Cherokee,
Irish, German and English descent.
- Brad Carson,
Former United States Congressman, Head of Cherokee Nation
Enterprises, Tribal Member Cherokee Nation
- Ned Christie,
Famous Outlaw and Frontiersman during Oklahoma Settlement, Tribal
Member, Cherokee Nation
Davis Tahchee Cypert, aka Chief Tahachee, actor
- Jerry Ellis,
nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his 1991 book Walking the Trail,
One Man's Journey Along the Cherokee Trail of
- Commander Ernest E. Graves, Harbormaster and political
Littlejohn, Native American flute maker and player
Kimsey King, University of North Carolina administrator and
- Thomas King,
Landham, Hollywood and pornographic actor
- Kenya Moore,
Former Miss USA, African American actress
- Jeffrey Vernon
Merkey, American Computer Scientist, Former Chief Scientist
of Novell, Author of Multiprocessor NetWare Operating System,
Tribal Member Cherokee Nation
Musselwhite, blues harmonica player and bandleader
- Jimi Hendrix,
Trek actress of African-American, Welsh, and Cherokee ancestry
- Chuck Norris,
actor and martial
- Nicole Ari
Parker, African-American actress, former Soul Food Series
- John Phillips, leader of The Mamas & the
- Jay Red
Eagle, Native American flutist, Tribal Member Cherokee
- John Red Hat Duke (Keetoowah Leader) - leader of
a Keetoowah Society Religious Movement, tribal member, Cherokee
- Della Reese,
Legendary African-American singer, actress, reverend. His
father, a police chief, was half-Cherokee.
- Will Rogers,
humorist and entertainer www.archives.gov/education/lessons/fed-indian-policy/
- Redbird Smith, Cherokee Leader and Statesman, Tribal
- Wes Studi, actor
(full Cherokee) Tribal Member Cherokee Nation
- Johnny Depp,
actor (mixed Cherokee/Irish/German heritage)
Judge, actor (mixed Cherokee/African heritage)
- Don Frye,
arts champion fighter, actor, and professional
wrestler (mixed Cherokee/Irish/Pensylvania Dutch
- Joseph J.
Clark, World War
II carrier admiral
- Joseph Ashton (actor), teen actor
- Adam Beach,
- Tami Chynn
(born Tamaar Chin) Jamaican artist (Mixed Cherokee,
African-American, Caucasian and Chinese heritage)
- Cherokee Moons Ceremonies
- Cherokee National Holiday
- Cherokee Scout Reservation
- Unto These
- Trail of
- Cherokee Nation Warriors Society
- Keetoowah Nighthawk Society
- Original Keetoowah Society
Conley, a novelist and short story writer who is a member of
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