MEET THE EASTERN BAND OF CHEROKEE INDIANS’ PRINCIPAL CHIEF: PATRICK LAMBERT.
Elected to serve as the 27th Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in October 2015, Patrick Lambert grew up in the Birdtown Community of Cherokee. Surrounded by his family, Chief Lambert learned the importance of family, community, and service. At the age of sixteen, he left home to attend school and soon joined the United States Army. While serving, he was awarded honor graduate status for advanced training at Fort Lee, Virginia. Later, he was stationed at Ford Richardson in Alaska. During that time he married his wife, Cyndi Lambert, and became the father of three children: Gina, Nelson, and Tiffany.
Fighting for Cherokee, and all of us: a life spent in service.
Chief Lambert’s desire to serve stayed with him beyond his military service, and he was accepted into the University of North Carolina School of Law. Upon graduating law school, Chief Lambert came home to his people and began his career of service to the Cherokee Tribe. Serving as tribal attorney, he drafted the first Gaming Ordinance, the original Per Capita Ordinance, the first Gaming Compact with the State of North Carolina, and the first management agreement with Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort. Since then, Chief Lambert has been part of every single renegotiation for the compact and amendments to the management agreement. In total, he served twenty-two years as the first executive director of the Tribal Gaming Commission for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. During his tenure as executive director he served with six gaming commissioners, nine TCGE board members, four governors of North Carolina, five Principal Chiefs, nine different Tribal Council chairs, and fifty-five different Tribal Council members.
When Chief Lambert announced his retirement as executive director of the Gaming Commission in January 2015, he subsequently announced his candidacy for the Office of Principal Chief. He has been a fighter for Cherokee families since day one. His service to the Cherokee Tribe is guided by the ideal that all Cherokee families deserve a Principal Chief that fights for them. Renewing the Office of the Principal Chief, so that it serves all our people, is job one. Putting Cherokee families first means ensuring every enrolled member is treated fairly, and is afforded equal opportunity to advance his or her life and well-being through employment, education, healthcare, and all the benefits of being a member of our tribe.
The Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Government grow stronger.
Since taking office, Chief Lambert has paid off the tribe’s $96 million debt and made historic investments in public health and other programs that benefit tribal youth and elders, all while increasing transparency and accountability in government. He cut the budget by over $30 million in his first year and did so without the loss of a single job. He has made it a priority to run the government with a real sense of fiscal conservatism while maintaining broad social programs for Cherokee families and members. He has breathed new life into the business environment and reawakened the desire to make our town better and diversify the business model of the Cherokee Tribe. New retail, food, and entertainment opportunities are on the horizon, and there is a real sense of renewal and growth again.
Chief Lambert is a new leader with new ideas that will transform our tribe and take us forward into a better tomorrow.