Charles Tate was born in Ardmore, Oklahoma in 1940. He is a direct descendant of the first elected Chickasaw chief in Indian Territory and the first elected Chickasaw governor. After receiving his Juris Doctorate from the University of Oklahoma, Tate moved to New Mexico, working for the Legal Aid Society.
Charles returned to his hometown of Ardmore and formed a law partnership with his father, Ernest Tate. In 1987, Charles was elected as a tribal judge for the Chickasaw Nation. He then served on the Court of Indian Offenses until 2006.
After retiring from law, Tate has spent much of his time in a contract position for the Chickasaws, locating and retrieving historical materials directly related to the tribe. These materials will be archived at the Holisso Research Center at the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur, Oklahoma. Tate has been a lifelong protector of Native American rights and a stoic defender of Indian law.