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Jobs Issue at Center of Cherokee Chief Campaign (Jun 24, 2011)

CLAREMORE, Okla. (AP) — How many jobs are being produced by the Cherokee Nation and who holds those positions has become a central issue in the campaign to see who will lead Oklahoma's largest American Indian tribe for the next four years.

The contentious campaign will end Saturday, when voters decide whether to keep 12-year incumbent Chad Smith as the tribe's principal chief or elevate longtime tribal councilman and Tahlequah businessman Bill John Baker to that position.

Smith touts the creation of more than 5,000 "stable jobs" during his tenure and says almost 60 percent of those have gone to Cherokees and about 10 percent have gone to members of other tribes.

Baker disputes those numbers and says the tribe needs to ensure Cherokees who want to work can find a job.

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