"The Only Independent Cherokee Newspaper"
"The Original On-line Independent Cherokee Newspaper"
Copyright © 1992-2006 All Worldwide Rights
The Cherokee Observer,
Article VII. Judicial
There is hereby created a Judicial
Appeals Tribunal composed of three (3)
members all of whom must be admitted
to practice law before the highest Court of
the State of which they are residents,
and all of whom shall be members of the
Cherokee Nation, appointed by the Principal
Chief and approved by the Council
for such terms as the Council may provide.
The purpose of this Tribunal shall be to
hear and resolve any disagreements
arising under any provision of this Constitution
and any enactment of the Council. The
Council shall provide for a procedure which
shall insure that nay litigant receives
due process of law together with prompt and
speedy relief, and shall generally
follow that portion of the Oklahoma Statutes
know as the Administrative Procedures
Act, Title 75, Oklahoma Statutes, 301 et
seq. The decision of the Judicial Appeals
Tribunal shall be final insofar as the
judicial process of the Cherokee Nation
THESE PICTURES OF THE CHEROKEE NATION COURTHOUSE , HOME OF THE
JUDICIAL BRANCH, WERE TAKEN APRIL 12, 1997. NOTICE THE BEAUTIFUL
SHRUBBERY AROUND THE BUILDING. IT WAS ALL REMOVED WHEN IT FELL UNDER
BYRD'S CONTROL ON JUNE 20, 1997.
CHEROKEE NATION'S SUPREME COURT JUSTICES MEET WITH U.S. SUPREME
COURT JUSTICE-Pictured L to R-Cherokee Nation Justice Dwight W. Birdwell;
US Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist; CN Justice Ralph F.
Keen; CN Justice Philip H. Viles, Jr. Photograph taken on trip to
Chief Justice Ralph F. Keen and lovely wife, Karen
CHIEF JUSTICE RALPH F. KEEN, SR.
Chief Justice Keen has formerly
been both Chief Justice of the Judicial Appeals Tribunal and an Associate
Justice. He currently serves again as Chief Justice.
The Chief Justice
was born in 1934 and raised in the Hominy community of Osage
County. After graduating from the Hominy public grade school
system, he obtained his high school diploma and certificate of proficiency
in printing from Chilocco Agricultural School.
Keen then joined the U.S. Army
and served in the United States and in Europe as an Infantry Squad
Leader. He then furthered his education at Northeastern
State University in Tahlequah. The U.S. Air Force then obtained his
services as a radar maintenance technician in the United States and Newfoundland.
He received an Honorable Discharge.
Back to school at Northeastern
State University in Tahlequah, and 1962, Keen received a Bachelor of Arts
in Education with a minor in English and a major in History.
Keen then became a
high school teacher, Linotype instructor at Haskell Indian School, Executive
Director of the Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada, Director of the Utah
University's Bureau of Indian Services, and then Business Manager
of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.
In 1969, he attended the University
of Tulsa College of Law and graduated in 1971 in the upper 10% of his class.
Keen practiced in a partnership
law firm, then worked as Deputy Director and Director of the Office of
Trust Responsibility for the BIA in Washington, D.C..
In 1977, he established his
own private law practice until 1983 when he became the Assistant U.S. Attorney
for the Eastern District of Oklahoma. Although retired since June
of 1995, he held the positions of Assistant U.S. Attorney and Chief, Civil
Division of the Eastern District of Oklahoma.
He has been admitted
to practice law in the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the United States Eastern
District Court, and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Before retiring, the
Justice had also been a co-owner and publisher of a now defunct
county newspaper, and co-owner of a successful international
tours travel agency.
Justice Keen and his wife have
four children and they reside in Tahlequah.
Justice Dwight W. Birdwell and lovely wife Virginia
JUSTICE DWIGHT WAYNE BIRDWELL
Justice Birdwell is
the former chief Justice of the Cherokee Nation. He currently serves
as an Associate Justice.
Birdwell was born
in 1948. He grew up in the Bell community in Adair County.
He graduated from Bell Grade School and then Stilwell High
the U.S. Army during the Viet Nam conflict and his heroic actions
during combat were awarded with his first Silver
Star on January 31, 1968 and his second
Silver Star six months later on July 4, 1968.
The Bronze Star Medal was awarded to him in September of 1968
for consistently manifesting exemplary professionalism and initiative in
obtaining outstanding results from September of 1967 through September
of 1968. Birdwell also earned the Purple Heart and Good Conduct Medal.
He is credited not only with saving the lives of many, but also contributing
immeasurably to the defeat of the enemy force and the success of the mission.
He recently co-authored a book about his experiences.
After his military service,
Birdwell received a BA degree in History with double minors in Geography
and Political Science from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah.
He was a member of a scholastic honor society, Alpha Chi and graduated
in the top ten percent of the undergraduate class.
From there, Birdwell went to
the Oklahoma University College of Law where he graduated in the top ten
percent of his class in 1976. While there, he belonged to the Order
of the Coif, a scholastic honor society restricted to the top ten percent
of the graduating class and was the recipient of numerous Am. Jr. awards.
Birdwell was admitted
to the Oklahoma State Bar in 1976 and has been a partner in Birdwell &
Associates in Oklahoma City. His practice concentrates in Energy,
Natural Resources and Indian Law. He is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell.
Chief Justice Birdwell and his wife Virginia [Bean],
have 2 children, a daughter, Stephanie Elaine and a son, Edward
Lyndon.. Mrs. Birdwell is from the
Pea Vine community in Adair
county and she is also a Cherokee Tribal
member. The Birdwells work and leave in Oklahoma City but they
still maintain their home in Bell, Oklahoma, their real home.
Justice Philip A. Viles, Jr.
JUSTICE PHILIP H. VILES, JR.
Justice Viles is the senior
member of the Judicial Appeals Tribunal. He previously
served from 1976 to 1981 as Justice, and was appointed Chief Justice from
1981 through 1994. He currently serves as Associate Justice.
Viles was born in Chelsea of
Rogers County to an old Cherokee family in 1946.
He graduated as Valedictorian of his Claremore High School class.
Viles received his Bachelors
of Art in Economics in 1968 from the University of Virginia
While there his activities included being on the college daily newspaper
staff, and participating in journalism, social, and business
Viles then spent 4
years in the U.S. Air Force as Communications and Electronics Officer.
Viles had Top Secret clearance and received the Vietnamese Medal
of Honor (First Class) and USAF Commendation Medal for accomplishments.
He was honorably discharged in 1972 as Captain.
Viles then completed
his J.D. at the University of Law- Tulsa in 1975. He was on
the Dean's honor roll, and finished in the top one-third of his class.
Viles has been employed as
a second vice president of a bank and trust company, and president
and partner of two companies.
In 1983, he graduated with
a M.B.A. from the University of Tulsa. His G.P.A. was 3.4
Until 1994, Viles worked in
the private practice of law. His memberships and affiliations have
varied from Arts Institute, Historical Society, Rotary Club, and Advisory
Boards where he has held many official positions. He was previously
the Chairman and Director of Cherokee Nation Industries from 1986 to 1988,
and a previous Commissioner of the Housing Authority of Cherokee Nation
Viles currently holds
for-profit directorships in a local bank in Claremore. He has also
published a book on the history of the National Statuary Hall in
the U.S. Congress Building.
Viles is a member of the Oklahoma
bar, and is admitted to practice before U.S. District Courts in Eastern
Oklahoma District and Northern Oklahoma District, as well as the U.S. Supreme
Justice Viles, a grandson of
former Cherokee Principal Chief J. Bartley Milam, and his wife have 3 children reside in Tulsa.
CLICK MAILBOX TO EMAIL
THE CHEROKEE OBSERVER
Started - 1/20/98