AUSTIN, Texas, April 22, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Michell Hicks, Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), in Cherokee, N.C., has been named Tribal Leader of the Year by the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) at the organization's 33rd annual conference in Austin, TX.
The award is given to the tribal leader who has displayed foresight and resolve in the economic advancement of his or her nation.
Hicks has lead the EBCI since he was first elected principal chief in 2003; he has served three consecutive terms, a total of 12 years. He earned his CPA in 1987 and worked in accounting until his election as principal chief.
He served as the EBCI's executive director of finance and budget for seven years and is credited for effectively managing the Tribe's financial resources, most notably income from the highly successful Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort, to improve the lives of Eastern Band enrolled members.
Under Hicks' leadership, the EBCI has seen a vast improvements in its educational system, health care, regional infrastructure, public safety, agriculture and environmental preservation.
Through its work in building tribal economies and strengthening tribal finance, NAFOA supports the advancement of independent and culturally vibrant Native American communities. Launched more than three decades ago, NAFOA advocates sound economic and fiscal policy, develops innovative training programs in financial management, builds the financial and economic skills of the next generation, and convenes tribal leadership, experienced professionals, and economic partners to meet the challenges of economic growth and change.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is a sovereign nation with approximately 15,000 enrolled members and is the only federally recognized Native American tribe in North Carolina. The Eastern Band of Cherokee makes its home on the 56,600-acre Qualla Boundary in five Western North Carolina counties about an hour west of Asheville, NC and at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
SOURCE Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians