Cherokee Nation citizens make Native 40 under 40 list

August 24, 2017

TULSA, Okla. – Five Cherokee Nation citizens made the 2017 “Native American 40 Under 40” list by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. The prestigious award recognizes 40 emerging American Indian leaders from across Indian Country, who are making significant contributions in business and their community by demonstrating leadership, initiative and dedication.

Cherokee Nation citizen awardees include Shaun Shepherd, Cherokee Nation Businesses board of directors; Tralynna Scott, Cherokee Nation Businesses attorney; Roy Boney, Cherokee Nation Language Program manager; Laura Sawney, compliance and performance officer for Osage Nation Health and Wellness; and Jessica Tyner Mehta, self-employed business owner, writer and teacher.

Three of this year’s honorees are employed with Cherokee Nation or its business arm, CNB.

“I am honored and humbled to have even been nominated, let alone to actually be chosen for this award,” said Boney. “I've had so many amazing mentors in my life and career. This would not be possible without their guiding influences. I'll be forever grateful to them and NCAIED for this great honor.”

Boney, of Tahlequah, is an active tribal citizen and a renowned Native American artist. His work within the Cherokee Nation Language Program supports the tribe's language revitalization efforts. His leadership and engagement with the growing population of Cherokee language learners are helping the traditional Cherokee language grow to explain modern ideas and meet the demands of modern communication tools. Boney works with the Cherokee Nation Translation team to help new words become standardized and accepted across government, businesses and communities. His efforts have also helped enable the written form of the Cherokee language, the Cherokee syllabary, to be used in contemporary technologies across multiple platforms such as Facebook, Microsoft and Apple.

Shepherd, of Tahlequah, serves as a member of CNB’s board of directors and as a mentor to Cherokee youth. He is also a philanthropist, entrepreneur and leader in the small business community. His leadership and tenure on CNB’s board has led to a growth of jobs within the tribal jurisdiction and has ensured the tribe’s businesses will remain strong and steadfast. Shepherd regularly shares his knowledge of business and master techniques of horticulture through community speaking engagements. Additionally, he provides support for student scholarships at Northeastern State University and the University of Arkansas.

Scott, of Broken Arrow, is an attorney for CNB. She also serves as a volunteer attorney, representing Native American children in deprived cases, for Tulsa Lawyers for Children. She is the assistant director of student recruitment on the University of Notre Dame Native American Alumni Board and a member of the Tulsa Indian Community Academy board of directors. Scott focuses on corporate and tribal taxation, employment law, tribal gaming protections and compliance issues for multiple business units located in 48 states. In her nearly 12 years supporting the tribally owned holding company of the Cherokee Nation, Scott has helped shape many of CNB’s corporate business practices, which she has developed into a lecture and shares through various speaking engagements nationwide.

“I am honored to be recognized by NCAIED as a recipient of the 40 under 40 award,” said Scott. “I am humbled to be included in this group of such accomplished young leaders from across Indian Country. I feel rewarded every day working for my tribe, but this award is such an honor because it shows others recognize and believe in the work that I am doing.”

The 2017 Native American 40 Under 40 Award winners will be honored on Sept. 6 during the inaugural Northwest Enterprise Development Conference at the Tulalip Resort Casino in Tulalip, Washington.