The Cherokee Leadership Development initiative supports lifelong, culture-based learning that gives members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians opportunities to develop strong leadership abilities and to serve successfully in leadership roles. The goal of the youth and adult leadership programs is to produce generations of strong Cherokee leaders who draw on tribal culture and values.
As the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) has improved the quality of life of its members, new leaders have been needed to join the ranks of those already serving as leaders in the tribal government, the casino owned by the EBCI, community organizations, local businesses and Cherokee Preservation Foundation. The Foundation convened members of the community to develop leadership programs that are grounded in traditional Cherokee values. The purpose of these culture-based leadership programs is to introduce the concept of selfless leadership and encourage emerging leaders to draw on Cherokee traditions in their decision making process.
For example, the Foundation encourages community members to work in the spirit of ga-du-gi, which in the Cherokee language means “working together for a common goal” and is a Cherokee tradition in which community members help neighbors in need. Members of traditional ga-du-gi work groups give a great deal to their community without seeking recognition for their actions.