Former Chickasaw Nation Supreme Court Justice Barbara Smith passes away

This article appeared in the December 2015 edition of the Chickasaw Times

Former Chickasaw Nation Supreme Court Justice Barbara Anne Smith died November 10, 2015 in Boulder, Colorado.

Justice Smith was a Chickasaw citizen and served as a Chickasaw Nation Supreme Court Justice from 2003 through 2015. Prior to her service on the Supreme Court, she served as a tribal District Judge.

She was a facilitator in reestablishing a Peacemaking Court within the Chickasaw Nation Judicial Branch. Justice Smith also worked as a Special Judge for the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Courts. She, along with her brother Michael Colbert Smith, operated a law practice in Norman, Okla.

Justice Smith was a descendant  of Chickasaw Nation Governor Winchester Colbert. She grew up in a Chickasaw family that always carried pride for Governor Colbert’s contributions to the Chickasaw Nation. Her father was born in 1920 and raised in Newcastle, Okla., on his family’s allotment land. He lived on the farm with his parents, Mabel Mae Smith and Virgil V. Smith and his grandparents, Martha C. Colbert Smith and Charles Sydney Smith. Her father’s grandmother was the daughter of Humphrey Colbert and Elmina Colbert and the granddaughter of Winchester Colbert and Silsey Colbert.

Justice Smith grew up in Midwest City, Okla. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from East Central (OK) University in 1971, and a master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Oklahoma in 1987.

She began her professional career as a mathematics teacher at Norman High School in the 1970s.

In 1987, she enrolled in Oklahoma City University School of Law and earned her juris doctorate in 1991. She and her brother Mother established their law practice in Norman that same year.

She served on the board of directors of the Native American Rights Fund, and the National American Indian Court Judges Association. She was also on the National Judicial College Tribal Advisory Council, and on the advisory board for the Women and Gender Studies program at the University of Oklahoma.

Justice Smith was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by a brother, Michael Smith, and sister-in-law Kathryn; three nephews, Benjamin Colbert, Matthew Winchester and Samuel Harrison; and a niece, Kathryn Mariah.

The family would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their kind thoughts and prayers during this sad time.

Please join us in remembering the Barbara and the Smith family in your thoughts and prayers.