TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Nation citizen Shawna Baker, of Tulsa, was sworn into office as the Cherokee Nation’s newest Supreme Court Justice at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex in Tahlequah Thursday, Aug. 27.
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. nominated Baker to the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court and the Council of the Cherokee Nation confirmed Baker’s appointment during a Council meeting held shortly before the swearing-in ceremony.
Baker joins former Justice Stacy Leeds and the late Justice Angela Barker-Jones as one of only three women to serve as a Supreme Court Justice in Cherokee Nation history.
“I applaud the Council’s decision to confirm the nomination of Shawna Baker to the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court. Justice Baker is a supremely qualified Cherokee who has the depth of experience that any Supreme Court in this country would like to have,” Chief Hoskin said. “We need a Supreme Court that has a diversity of legal experience, and I truly believe we have found the right addition with Justice Baker. She is a Cherokee Nation citizen of the highest caliber, and I thank the Council for taking the right action in this historic moment.”
The Supreme Court is the highest court in the Cherokee Nation government, interpreting the tribe’s constitution and its statutes in all civil and criminal proceedings within the tribe’s broad jurisdiction.
Baker earned a bachelor’s degree from John Brown University, a master’s degree in biological science and a law degree from the University of Tulsa, a master of law from Columbia University, and a master of law in taxation from New York University.
She brings 18 years of legal experience in various areas of law. Some of her prior roles include a litigation associate, an attorney and a managing partner at a number of law firms, a trustee of a charitable organization and an assistant professor at the Florida Coastal School of Law. Most recently, she served on the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission. She is also a member of several bar associations including the Cherokee Nation Bar Association.
“What an honor it is to be able to help put forward an exceptionally talented Cherokee woman to our tribe’s highest court,” said District 15 Tribal Councilor Janees Taylor. “I am honored to have given her my vote, and I am excited to see someone with her experience, tenacity and perspective serving on our Supreme Court. I have no doubt in her ability to serve the Cherokee people well as a jurist committed to upholding integrity in the rule of law.”
Baker will serve the remaining four years of former Supreme Court Justice Lynn Burris’ term after his passing in March. She joins Supreme Court Chief Justice James G. Wilcoxen and Justices Lee W. Paden; Mark L. Dobbins and John C. Garrett.
“I am honored to become the third woman to serve on the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court,” Baker said. “My deepest gratitude to Chief Hoskin for my nomination, to the Tribal Councilors for your votes to confirm, to Stacy Leeds for breaking the glass ceiling and lifting up other Cherokee women, to Justice John Garrett for presiding over my swearing-in, to Jayme for your commitment and devotion, to my dear friends and to so many others who made today possible in one way or another. I will forever be grateful beyond measure.”