About Us

Preparing New Cherokee Leaders by Emphasizing Traditional Tribal Values

With the emergence in the past decade of a casino owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), the tribe has prospered financially and leadership opportunities for tribal members have multiplied. With the casino, tribal government and other organizations all seeking to employee tribal members with strong leadership skills, the leadership pool has been stretched thin. To help the tribe develop new leaders to join the ranks of those already serving, Cherokee Preservation Foundation developed several successful leadership programs.

In 2016, based on feedback from the community, the Cherokee Preservation Foundation started a collaborative project with the Cherokee Boys Club to maximize on the potential of the existing leadership programs. As a result, the Ray Kinsland Leadership Institute was formed to house the existing leadership programs under one umbrella organization.

The Cherokee Boys Club is a non-profit organization that has successfully provided employment, training, and community service to the Cherokee community since 1932. Much of the Cherokee Boys Club’s success can be attributed to Mr. Raymond E. Kinsland. Mr. Kinsland served as the General Manager of the Cherokee Boys Club for over 50 years. In 1968, he was made an honorary member of the EBCI because of his selfless service to the Cherokee people and community. Mr. Kinsland’s character and selfless leadership exemplifies what we want to pass down in our programs.

In the Cherokee culture, leaders are those that do what needs to be done without seeking recognition for their efforts.  The goal of the Ray Kinsland Leadership Institute is to help produce a selfless, giving generation that is grounded in traditional Cherokee values and educated in modern leadership. As of August 2017, the Ray Kinsland Leadership Institute is fully staffed and working on strategic, public relations, marketing, and community relationship planning for all programs.

The Traditions of Cherokee Leadership

Cherokee values are illustrated by two Cherokee traditions—ga-du-gi and the Grand Council. Ga-du-gi, which in the Cherokee language means “working together for the common good,” is a Cherokee traditions in which community members help neighbors in need without being asked for help.

Grand Councils were conducted for many generations to deliberate on important matters. At these councils, every Cherokee—from the oldest to youngest—had the right to be heard. Tribal leaders sought understanding and consensus through mutual inquiry.

Concepts of the Leadership Initiative

As the Cherokee Preservation Foundation worked closely with Cherokee tribal members to develop the leadership initiative, we created a program that:

  • Is culturally based and grounded in Cherokee values.
  • Includes exposure to the broader world of Native cultures and challenges.
  • Emphasizes learning by doing, and includes formal learning, mentoring, and internship components.
  • Integrates leadership into new and existing organizations and programs.
  • Includes a discovery process into tribal identity, values, and history.
  • Utilizes the wisdom of elders through teaching, mentoring, and monitoring.
  • Supports individual, organizational, and community change and growth, and is oriented to community rather than individual benefit.
  • Embraces all generations and is accessible to all tribal members following diverse pursuits, as many vocations and pursuits of leadership are valued and supported.
  • Encompasses partnerships with Tribal and community programs.
  • Collaborates with other effective, culturally compatible programs across the U.S.

Using the concepts and initiatives above, three culturally-based leadership programs were developed. The Cherokee Youth Council for youth grades 7-12, the Jones-Bowman Leadership Award Program for college undergraduates, and the ᏚᏳᎪᏛᎢ Right Path Adult Leadership Program. Please visit each individual page for more information.

Jones Bowman

Jones-Bowman Leadership Award Program

The Jones-Bowman Leadership Award Program was established in 2007 to honor the memories and leadership skills of Principal Chief Leon Jones and Mr. James Bowman as founding members of the Board of Directors of the Cherokee Preservation Foundation.

Our programing is grounded in these traditional core values: Sense of Humor, Sense of Place, Spirituality, Group Harmony, Educating the Children, Honoring the Past, Strong Character

Funding from the Cherokee Preservation Foundation enables each fellow to create individual leadership learning plans, which includes activities such as; special academic enrichment, tutoring, domestic and foreign travel, conferences, cultural exchanges, mentoring, leadership development training, and amazing volunteer opportunities.

Who is Eligible?

  • Enrolled members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
  • Students pursuing undergraduate studies and enrolled in at least six credit hours per semester
  • Students with an interest in community service, cultural learning and ethical leadership within the community

Requirements of Fellows:

  • Active Mentorship
  • Group Service Project
  • Complete 40 hours of Community Service
  • Maintain set GPA
  • Attend mandatory events
  • *Fellowship runs June through May 31st


    • Participation in unique leadership opportunities that will develop your skills.
    • Community and culture involvement with opportunity to give back.
    • Meet other students interested in becoming leaders within the Cherokee community.
    • Fund your leadership opportunities with $4,000 in award money.
    • Receive guidance from mentors.

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Cherokee Youth Council

Cherokee Youth Council

The Cherokee Youth Council is a culturally based leadership program striving to empower tribal youth through the development of cultural identity, leadership skills, and community service.  Our program uses the following 7 Cherokee Core Values to guide all our activities and community involvement:

Group Harmony


Strong Individual Character

Sense of Place

Honoring the Past

Educating the Children

Sense of Humor


  • Wide variety of cultural programs
  • Leadership development opportunities
  • Community Service Opportunities
  • Cultural Exchange programs with other tribes
  • International travel opportunities
  • School clubs and activities
  • Youth empowerment and educational conferences


  • The CYC is open to enrolled members of the EBCI between the 7th and 12th grades that are in good standing in all area schools serving EBCI students to include home schoolers.
  • In order to be eligible for travel opportunities, CYC members are required to participate in group and individual community service opportunities; fundraising events; and attend monthly CYC meetings and activities.
  • Follow the CYC Code of Conduct and uphold the 7 Cherokee Core Values

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Right Path

ᏚᏳᎪᏛᎢ Right Path Adult Leadership Program

This program has been created to provide new ways for EBCI tribal members to learn Cherokee history and culture, and to develop leadership competencies.

  • Focuses on tribal identity, tribal values and tribal history.
  •  In addition, participants will have exposure to the broader world of American Indian and indigenous cultures.
  • Leadership learning will include individual and group Ga-du-gi projects to improve and restore aspects of Cherokee culture and community.
  • Seven core values
  • 12 month program (October-September) meets two full days per month (second Wed. and Thursday)
  • Utilize guest presenters from the Cherokee community as well as other native communities

Right Path accepts EBCI enrolled members 18 years old and older

Selection is based on a nomination process in which nominations are taken from alumni and community members. Nominees are contacted to see if they are interested. If they are they will fill out a basic application and participate in an interview with Right Path alumni. If selected their employer has to agree to their participation as part of their regular tour of duty and not require make up time or the use of leave.

Contact Us


Main Number: 828.359.5541

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