Chief Ross Swimmer
Previous Wall of Fame Honorees include:
Leo Mayfield - 2004
Dr. Kenneth Cooper - 2005
Neil Woodward - 2006
Dr. Carlan Yates - 2007
Dr. Rhonda Roby - 2008
Mayor Mick Cornett - 2009
James Marsden - 2010
Bryan White - 2011
Steve Largent - 2012
Debbie Giannopoulos - 2013
Neal McCaleb - 2014
Sonny Vu - 2015
Elizabeth Garrett - 2016
The Putnam City Schools Foundation proudly announces Ross Swimmer as its 2017 Wall of Fame honoree. Swimmer, a 1961 graduate of Putnam City High School, will be inducted at a celebration dinner in his honor on April 13, 2017 at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City.
Swimmer attended Putnam City High School during his junior and senior years, where he played the clarinet in band. He went on to attend the University of Oklahoma where he was a member of the Pride of Oklahoma marching band and Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity. Swimmer obtained an undergraduate degree in political science in 1965 and received his juris doctorate in 1967.
Swimmer’s Native American heritage and work in real estate law intersected when he performed pro bono work for the Cherokee Nation Housing Authority, later becoming in-house counsel for the Cherokee Nation. He began work for the Nation in an official capacity in 1972 and became Principal Chief in 1975.
He remained in this capacity until 1983, when he left at the request of President Ronald Reagan to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Interior-Indian Affairs. Swimmer was instrumental in helping western tribes secure water rights and providing funds for projects that allowed tribes to use that water for agricultural and business projects on reservations.
Swimmer went on to the law firm of Hall, Estill where his focus was again on the betterment of Native American people. His work resulted in several tribal settlements and work for the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes. Swimmer served as president of Cherokee Nation Industries, Inc. before being asked by President George W. Bush and Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton to return to Washington as the director of Indian Trust Transition at the Department of the Interior. In 2003 President Bush nominated Swimmer to become the Special Trustee for American Indians, an appointment requiring senate approval.
He is married to Margaret (McConnell) Swimmer and has two adult sons, Joseph and Michael. He currently works as a registered investment advisor in partnership with Native American Fund Advisors, a Tulsa-based investment advising firm specializing in work with American Indian Tribes.