Professor Philip Viles has been affiliated with The University of Tulsa for over 55 years as a student, an employee (Director of Annual Giving), a donor, and now as an adjunct faculty member. He retired from the U.S. Department of the Interior in May 2013 after serving ten years in Washington, DC under the Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs. The last six of those years, Viles managed a guaranteed loan program with a $75 million/year guarantee budget and a $520 million portfolio of loans and loan guarantees, supervising 15 employees across five time zones, using his TU degrees (JD, MBA) on a daily basis.
He has been an invited speaker at TU and an invited panelist and speaker on financial and Native American topics ranging from two conferences of the Native American Finance Officers’ Association to the Federal Bar Association’s Indian Law Conference, (April 2013). In November 2019, he received a special invitation to attend the White House Conference on Supporting Contemporary Native American Veterans. In addition to several Cabinet Secretaries, Vice President Mike Pence met with the group.
Viles is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and served continuously on that Nation’s highest court for over 25 years, 16 years of those as Chief Justice of the Cherokee Nation. He was invited to sit with the Supreme Court of Georgia in September, 1993 to hear two cases. In 1994, he had private meetings with two Associate US Supreme Court Justices (Breyer and Ginsburg) and Chief Justice Rehnquist in 1994 in their chambers, after which, Rehnquist moved Viles’ admission to the US Supreme Court. Three years later, Viles met with C.J. Rehnquist again, and three years after that, had a private meeting with Attorney General Janet Reno and two of her top aides, in her office, to discuss Cherokee affairs.
Professor Viles served as one of only 79 delegates to the 1999 Cherokee Nation Constitutional Convention, Tahlequah, Oklahoma. (It had been 160 years since the Cherokees’ previous constitutional convention.) He was awarded the Cherokee National Medal of Patriotism in 2003, “in recognition for service to the tribe and upholding the Cherokee Constitution”. Viles is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and holds five military decorations from the United States, two from the Republic of Vietnam, and one from the Cherokee Nation.
Viles served as a director of two Oklahoma banks over a 22-year period and was on the board of directors of two other Oklahoma financial service firms between 1985 and 2000. He has experience as a bank trust officer and a small-business owner. A life member of the Oklahoma Historical Society and the Cherokee National Historical Society, Viles is also a charter member of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame (now known as National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum) and the United States Capitol Historical Society.
His publications include:
• NATIONAL STATUARY HALL: GUIDEBOOK FOR A WALKING TOUR, 2 editions (1995 and 1997) which he parlayed into seven live national TV appearances on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal”
• Introduction to The J.B. Milam Library: A Short-Title Catalog, issued by McFarlin Library of the University of Tulsa, 1993, where Milam’s library of books and papers is held in Special Collections. Viles and two cousins made this donation to TU in 1993; J.B. Milam was their grandfather and served as Principal Chief of the Cherokees from 1941 until his death in 1949.
• Five essays in Notable Native Americans (1994), Gale Research
• Seven essays in the twenty-volume work American National Biography (1998), Oxford University Press.
• Article ("The Cover") in Libraries and Culture, Winter 1999, about the J.B. Milam Library, part of Special Collections at the University of Tulsa. Article by Jerrie Hall, Sidney F. Huttner & PHV.
• Foreword for The Brainerd Journal : A Mission to the Cherokees, 1817 1823, University of Nebraska Press, 1998.
• Contributor to "Growing Economies in Indian Country: Taking Stock of Progress and Partnerships", published by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 2012.
Notes to his education:
• MLIS: selected by the faculty for Beta Phi Mu (international honor society)
• JD: was a member of the Tulsa Law Journal (now the Tulsa Law Review) and Phi Delta Phi (international legal honor society)
• BA: lived on The Lawn in a room built in the 1820s, an honor reserved for 54 graduating students “who have made significant contributions to the University”, member of Beta Theta Pi (social fraternity) and Delta Sigma Pi (professional business fraternity). Echols Scholar and member of both the 1838 Society and the Rotunda Society.
MJ Courses Taught:
Finance & Accounting Concepts in Native American Business, Economic Development in Indian Country, and
Research Methods in Indian Law.
Philip Viles, NATIONAL STATUARY HALL: GUIDEBOOK FOR A WALKING TOUR (1995).
Philip Viles, Bring Me Back Alive (2019).
Philip Viles, The Brainerd Journal: A Mission to the Cherokees, 1817-1823 (Indians of the Southeast) (1998).
- Research Methods in Indian Law
- Economic Development in Indian Country
- Admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court
- Oklahoma Bar Association
- Cherokee Nation Bar Association
Awards & Honors
- Air Force Commendation Medal
- Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat Device
- Vietnam Service Medal with Bronze Service Star
- Cherokee Nation Warrior Award
- Cherokee National Medal of Patriotism