Ross Swimmer, a member of the Cherokee Nation, the second largest Indian tribe in the U.S., was named the Special Trustee for American Indians on April 17, 2003. He received both his BA and Juris Doctor degrees from Oklahoma University, and since then has had legal and consulting practices in Oklahoma, and served as President of a bank and of a manufacturing company owned by the Cherokee Nation. In 1975, Swimmer became the Cherokee Nation’s Principal Chief, serving three successive terms until resigning in 1985 to accept President Reagan’s appointment to the position of Assistant Secretary, Indian Affairs. He was there for the next three years, during which he advocated eliminating the Bureau of Indian Affairs. From 1995 until 2001 Swimmer was President of the Cherokee Group, L.L.C., a consulting firm that represents Indian clients engaged in government issues, and which is a strong supporter of the development of businesses on Indian lands. In 2001, Swimmer became Director of the Office of Indian Trust Transition, where he remained until he was chosen by President Bush for his current position.
Swimmer has also been the Co-Chairman of the Presidential Commission on Indian Reservation Economies, and Chairman of the White House Conference on Indian Education. Swimmer has contributed to the political campaigns of both Republicans and Democrats.