PO Box 207
Cherokee, NC 28719
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council Member
Appointed by the Governor
July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2013
Biography of Virginia (Tommye) Saunooke
I am an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and grew up on the Cherokee Indian Reservation. I was educated in the Jackson County School system. Following graduation I attended Brevard Junior College where I earned an Associate of Arts degree; however, I married, had three children and placed my education on hold. I worked at many jobs to support and educate my children, when they were youngsters, primarily in the tourist industry.
My eldest son attended East Tennessee State University; my daughter graduated from WCU with a degree in accounting, becoming a CPA, and owns her own business. My youngest son graduated from WCU and went on the UNC-Chapel Hill where he earned a Jurist Doctor. He is a member of the NC Bar Association and is employed as a tribal court judge for the EBCI. My adopted grandson attends Smokey Mountain Elementary School and is in the 6th grade.
At the age of 53, I decided that is was time to pursue my education. I returned to WCU and earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Interior Design. At the age of 59, I ran for Tribal Council for the EBCI and was elected in 1999. I have remained in office since that date. I have completed five terms in Tribal Government and I am currently running for my sixth term. Not only did I begin a new career but I realized that an education was an important missing element so I enrolled in the Master of Public Affairs program in 2000 and graduated with honors (Pi Gamma Mu) in 2006 with a Public Affairs degree.
The committees that I serve on for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians:
Commissioners – Tribal Roads
Commissioner – Tribal Housing
EBCI HELP Committee
Chairman of the Social Services Committee
Land Acquisition Committee
Member of the Painttown Community Club
Member of the Native American Indian Women’s Association
Pi Gamma Mu Honor Society
Olivet Methodist Church Member
I have authored many pieces of legislation that have encompassed a vast array of areas. To be able to serve my people in a great honor. I hope that I can continue to serve all the people of Western North Carolina for many years to come.