Charles Boyd, known to most of his friends and acquaintances simply as “Chief”, was born in 1940, the son of a cowboy and a Cherokee Indian. He graduated high school in Borger Texas in 1958, then entered the University of Colorado, receiving a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1964. After years of working with various architectural firms, he formed The Boyd Group in 1978. In the early 1980’s, he became one of the founding partners of BSW International, which became a massive organization. In 1988, Chief withdrew from BSW to begin his own small office practice and eventually partnering with Barry Thalden to form Thalden Boyd Architects LLC, now operating under the name TBE Architects.
Over the ensuing years, Chief’s reputation for quality and innovative design, opened the doors of opportunity making him one of the most well-known Native American architects in the U.S. Throughout his career Chief has worked with 116 Tribes and First Nations across the United States and up into Canada, designing hundreds of award winning casinos, hotels and tribal facilities. Chief’s unparalleled experience in designing Native American projects dates all the way back to 1963 when a Thesis project for his own tribe, became the immersive Cherokee Cultural Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
Early in life, Chief’s legacy nearly went in a drastically different direction. As a young man, working toward completing his architectural degree, Chief composed a letter to one Mr. Hugh Heffner, explaining that for his thesis, he would like to do some design work for the growing Playboy empire. Whilst awaiting a reply, the opportunity to develop a new design for the Cherokee Cultural Center in Oklahoma arose. Chief composed another letter, and a short while later, received a response from both Mr. Heffner and the Cherokee Council, inviting him to use their property for his Thesis.
We’re all very grateful that a young man in 1963 chose to heed the council of his beloved mother, and begin what would become a lifetime of service, dedicated to promoting the sovereignty of all tribal people.
For over 55 years, Chief has brought honor to the Cherokee Nation, serving as an inspiration and mentor for others. He is the official architect to the Cherokee National Historical Society, a position he has held since 1964. Over the years, he has served on the Cherokee National Historical Society Board in a variety of capacities, including seven years as president. As a significant proponent for the preservation of Native American culture and tribal sovereignty, Chief Boyd was instrumental in assisting to establishing the Thalden Boyd Emery Scholarship Fund, providing educational scholarships and opportunities for hundreds of young Indians.
Chief Boyd is quoted as having said, “To bless the world and help a world in need, we have to start with a strong Cherokee Nation by preserving our heritage, teaching our history, and living our culture.”
Chief’s professional experience in casino and hospitality design and his passion for improving the lives of Indian people has not gone unrecognized. His extensive list of awards, includes:
- Educational Commendation from the National Construction Specifications Institute
- Professional Firm of the Year
- Native American Professional Businessman of the Year
- Contemporary Achievement Award – Given to recognize a Cherokee who is accomplished in a chosen field, has brought honor to the Cherokee Nation, and serves as an inspiration for others.
- 6×96 Award from the National Concrete Masonry Association
- The Chairman’s Leadership Award from the National Indian Gaming Association
- Hugh R. Humphries Distinguished Service Award
- And most recently the Pauline Murillo Award
- In 2018, NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens Jr was quoted saying, “Chief Boyd is one of the greatest examples of a person who has committed his life to working with Indian country to advance the economic opportunities of many tribal communities. He is a great Indian country Warrior, and we look forward to recognizing his contributions.”
Chief’s good nature and zeal for life are manifest in both his personal and professional life. His demeanor personifies leadership and dignity and has become an intricate part of the TBE Architectural firm. One of his famous quotes, “It’s a lot more fun when everyone is excited about what we are doing. We focus our individual talents and apply those talents to meet the client’s needs. To get a creative product out of creative people you have to let them enjoy what they do. We approach projects in a collaborative way, encouraging people work together as a team, accomplishing goals together. We have a good time and working together creates success for everyone.”
When Chief isn’t servicing Native American’s and working on architectural design, he spends time with his wife Virgie Lou whom he has been married to for more than 50 years. Together they enjoy traveling and grand parenting with their three daughters and their families. And now, after a lifetime of service, we wish our beloved Chief Boyd the very best as he enters retirement and begins a new chapter in his life.