Seven tribal employees who were fired or demoted when former Principal Chief Patrick Lambert took office in 2015 have received a combined $698,000 in settlement payouts following a November agreement that Lambert made public this week.

Cherokee elders will no longer have power, water or sewer bills to worry about following a divided Tribal Council vote July 6 to pass legislation that former Principal Chief Patrick Lambert had put forward during his term.

After three full days of testimony and four hours of waiting for a verdict, silence reigned at the Cherokee council house May 25 as Tribal Council convened to deliver its final decision on whether to remove Principal Chief Patrick Lambert from office.

In the three days of testimony that comprised Principal Chief Patrick Lambert’s impeachment hearing, Lambert himself was by far the most prominent witness, spending a total of seven hours on the stand spread over two days. 

Impeachment hearings to consider charges against Principal Chief Patrick Lambert stretched on for three days last week, with Tribal Council holding four hours of closed-door deliberations before voting to remove Lambert from office. To view the impeachment hearings in their entirety, visit

Following three days of impeachment hearings, Tribal Council deliberated for four hours before returning to vote in open session. Each of the 12 charges against Principal Chief Patrick Lambert were announced individually, with councilmembers then standing up one by one to cast their vote as guilty, not guilty or abstained.

During a full day of testimony Monday, May 22, the prosecution against Principal Chief Patrick Lambert made its case that Lambert’s administration has operated on a double standard, with one set of rules for him and his supporters and another set for everybody else. 

• Cherokee council removes Chief Lambert from office

The charges
Tribal members speak

The nine witnesses to take the stand spoke to allegations that Lambert had massively overspent on contracts without proper approval, denied payment for Tribal Council’s legal representation while shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars for his own, and interfered with the Office of Internal Audit’s access to the records it needed to fulfill its function. Allegations also included violations of human resources policies and trading of political favors.

The impeachment process set in motion during a February Tribal Council meeting reached its climax this week as Principal Chief Patrick Lambert faced a list of 12 charges during all-day impeachment hearings May 22-23.

The council house was packed to the gills Monday, May 22, as tribal members gathered to watch the impeachment proceedings against Principal Chief Patrick Lambert. They filled the seats, with additional fold-up chairs brought in to line the aisles. They stood in the halls, craning necks to watch the action, and they packed the lobby, where a livestream of the hearing played on a TV.

In the last minutes of a daylong session Thursday, May 11, the Cherokee Tribal Council voted to set a new hearing date for impeachment charges against Principal Chief Patrick Lambert. The vote scheduled the hearing for Thursday, May 18, but the date was later changed to 10 a.m. Monday, May 22, to accommodate the chief’s travel schedule.

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