Oklahoma Chad Smith was elected to a third term as chief of the Cherokee Nation on Saturday in Tahlequah as the tribe deals with controversy surrounding a vote to rescind the tribal membership of the descendants of its slaves.
With more than 13,600 ballots counted, Smith had won 58.8 percent of the vote, while his opponent, former Cherokee Supreme Court Justice Stacy Leeds, now a Kansas University law professor, received 41.2 percent.
Smith was elected chief in 1999 and re-elected in 2003.
In a special election in March, tribal members voted overwhelmingly to remove tribal citizenship for about 2,800 descendants of tribal slaves, who are commonly known as freedmen.
In May, a tribal court issued a temporary injunction allowing the freedmen to maintain their citizenship while they appeal the constitutionality of the March election.
The matter is being argued in both tribal and U.S. federal courts.