August 9, 2017
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden is being honored as one of three 2017 Distinguished Alumni by Northeastern State University’s Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Awards are presented annually to NSU alumni who, through personal achievement and service, have brought honor and distinction to both themselves and the university.
Deputy Chief Crittenden, of Stilwell, graduated from NSU in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science in accounting and business administration after first serving in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War.
“It is an honor to receive this award from Northeastern State University,” Crittenden said. “It has been 43 years since I graduated from the university, and I still wear my gold NSU class ring every single day. I was an atypical college student, returning to school after serving in the U.S. Navy during Vietnam. However, I was blessed to receive an excellent education at NSU, and what I learned there helped guide me on a long career of public service.”
After his military service, Crittenden served as a postmaster for the U.S. Postal Service. He served two terms on the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council and has been elected twice as Deputy Chief of the Cherokee Nation. Crittenden also served as eastern Oklahoma area vice president for the National Congress of American Indians from 2011-15.
Crittenden has given back to Northeastern State University by supporting the tribe’s efforts to restore Seminary Hall and install modern classroom technologies. He also offers support and advice to youth in their pursuit of higher-education opportunities.
“I am proud to say I am an alum of a school that is so committed to Native students and developing leaders for Indian Country,” Crittenden said. “Cherokee Nation and NSU have established one of the most unique and successful collaborations between a tribal government and public higher education institution.”
During his time as Deputy Chief, Crittenden has been an advocate for some of the most successful initiatives in Cherokee government, but one of his deepest passions is ensuring Cherokee military veterans are recognized for their service and have all of their essential needs met. He helped ensure the Cherokee Nation Veterans Center was completed and opened so military men and women have a place of honor at the tribe’s headquarters in Tahlequah.
“Joe Crittenden is extraordinarily qualified to be recognized as a distinguished alumnus by our Alumni Association Board of Directors,” NSU President Dr. Steve Turner said. “His career path is highlighted by many years of service to the Cherokee Nation and to our country. I am so excited for Joe and his family and am honored to call him friend.”
Crittenden will be recognized along with two other NSU Distinguished Alumni on Sept. 29 at the Alumni Association Honors Dinner and again Sept. 30 at the Emerald Ball. Both events are open to the public.