Keynote Speaking


  • 100 Year Plan: Tribal Nation Building
  • Designing an Organization to Sustain an Economy
  • Building One Fire: Cherokee Art and Culture
  • Leadership: Point A to Point B

Leadership: Point A to Point B
Much has been written and said about leadership to the extent it has lost much of its definition.  Leadership is the most critical aspect for a society, business, government and people in general. This presentation describes leadership as the process of going from Point A (where you are) to Point B (where you want to go). This model illustrates that at Point A, people must have a tremendous amount of humility to understand their place in space and time, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. Point B is equally challenging, because many people do not know where they want to go because they lack vision and/or an understanding of their opportunities.  Between Point A and Point B are curves, detours and potholes that one must have the education, skills, and motivation to navigate. Smith instituted his principle-based leadership model at the Cherokee Nation during his tenure from 1999 and 2011. As a result, the Cherokee Nation grew its assets from $150 million to $1.2 billion, increased healthcare services from $18 million to $310 million, and created 6,000 jobs. This model is applicable to business, government and to people in everyday life situations.

100 Year Plan: Tribal Nation Building
Indian tribal governments have a special relationship with the United States government.  As tribal nations, federally recognized Indian tribes are entitled to enact their own laws and conduct businesses under their own governmental structures. The Cherokee Nation government has been recognized in the world community of governments since 1721, when it signed its first treaty with Great Britain.  In 1832, the United States Supreme Court held that Indian tribes are “domestic dependent nations” with inherent sovereignty and territories exclusive to state governments. “Nation building” is the process of developing a tribe to build self-sufficient economies and cultural integrity. This presentation provides an understanding of Indian Country and answers popular questions such as: “Why do some Indian tribes have casinos, What is a reservation, and Why do Indian tribes have different laws?” The message is that Indians are citizens of their own governments, in addition to being culturally distinct. Did you know that the famous humorist Will Rogers did not become an American citizen until 1901?  Will was born in 1879 in the Cherokee Nation.  His parents were both Cherokee citizens, so he was a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Will Rogers became an American citizen (and retained his Cherokee citizenship), as did other Cherokees, under federal law in 1901.

Designing an Organization to Sustain an Economy
Economies must be built with a competitive advantage. One of the competitive advantages often overlooked in rural areas is competitive intelligence. Competitive intelligence can often be viewed as “what people can do and enjoy doing as good as or better than others.” Detroit is known for automobiles, Wall Street for finance, Silicon Valley for computers, the Navajo for silver smithing, Mohawks for high iron construction. For example, local craftsmen with a great affinity for creating handmade knifes out of saw blades and deer antlers is an example of competitive intelligence that can sustain the growth of a long term cutlery industry. When competitive intelligence is determined for an area or population, educational systems must be aligned to produce skills and grow that intelligence for that economy.

Building One Fire: Cherokee Art and Culture
In 2010, Chad Smith designed, compiled and edited the award winning Cherokee Art and Culture book entitled “Building One Fire, the Art and Culture of Cherokee Life.” The unique aspect and presentation of this book illustrates the fundamental concept that historically, Cherokees did not have “art for art sake.” Art design was originally used to decorate and personalize tools, weapons and utensils. Within the last hundred years, Cherokees have used art to express cultural stories. This presentation is an in-depth look at Cherokee identity that is composed of cultural attributes, expressed in outstanding and deeply moving art. Being Cherokee is not represented by teepees, powwows or being a side kick for Daniel Boone. Smith’s portrayal of Cherokee art, culture and thought is accurate, insightful and beautiful.

Chad Smith delivers commencement speech to over 7,000 >>