News

Treaty obligation failures as the U.S. government remains closed.

The longest government shutdown in U.S. history continues to directly negatively impact Native Nations across the United States. Federal funding promised by US Treaties are simply not being provided during the shutdown, which impacts critical areas such as Indian Health Services (IHS).

As noted in this article link below from the Stillwater News Press, “About 170 federal employees are now working without pay at IHS health facilities in Pawnee, Pawnee Nation Tribal Council, member Sammye Kemble shared in a Facebook post she made Wednesday.” The Pawnee Nation is currently raising money to help assist these Federal workers who haven’t been paid and are in danger of personal financial consequences because of the shutdown.

Native Nations are being hurt across the country in more significant ways as Treaty specified payments have fully ceased. Also noted in this article, “On Wednesday the Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas announced that it had laid off 22 employees due to the shutdown. Federal funds provide services like law enforcement, healthcare and road maintenance as a result of treaties signed with the U.S., in exchange for ceding thousands of acres of land occupied by the tribes to the federal government.”

Neither Republicans nor Democrats have come up with an answer for the shutdown that President Trump has initiated. In a CBS News report Thursday, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina said he sees no way to resolve the shutdown after both parties have put forth solutions to funding the government only to be refused by the President. “I have never been more depressed about moving forward than I am right now,” Graham told reporters. “I just don’t see a pathway forward. Somebody has got to get some energy to fix this.”

As such, the shutdown continues despite the best efforts of Congress, leaving all Native Nations and Native citizens without the funding demanded by existing treaties.

Read more at the Stillwater News Press:

Government shutdown hurting tribes as workers go unpaid

U.S. Supreme Court Deciding Native Sovereignty In Oklahoma

An obscure murder case has finally worked its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and at stake is how the entire State of Oklahoma was carved out of Native treaty land. For Native Americans across the United States, this is a key moment and the decision will be a key decision – to rightly recognize Native Sovereignty in Oklahoma.

Perhaps the best article providing an update comes from an article in the Washington Post by Rebecca Nagle, a writer and citizen of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma.

Half the land in Oklahoma could be returned to Native Americans. It should be.

A Supreme Court case about jurisdiction in an obscure murder has huge implications for tribes. [ READ Washington Post Article]

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2018/11/28/half-land-oklahoma-could-be-returned-native-americans-it-should-be/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.e60f453d3222

Native America Endorses Drew Edmondson for Governor of Oklahoma

Native America asked Oklahoma Governor candidates about Tribal Sovereignty in Oklahoma. Only Drew Edmondson‘s campaign responded.

“Tribal sovereignty is an undeniable right. As Governor, Drew will continue to have the upmost respect for tribal sovereignty and is committed to working with the tribes of Oklahoma as partners.” – Drew Edmondson Campaign

As the other candidate for Governor of Oklahoma chose not to respond, the only record to go on is his support for a current administration that is actively attempting to remove Native Sovereignty.

Native America is non-partisan, and seeks to protect Native Sovereignty by supporting and/or opposing candidates based on this Native issue. Whatever your party, it is imperative to consider protecting our Tribal Governments and our Native Communities.

Native America officially endorses Drew Edmondson for Governor of Oklahoma.

Protecting Native America – donate today!

Native America Action is raising money.

The 2018 mid-term elections are just four short months away and Native America Action is watching all races carefully.  As a Native First, non-partisan Super PAC, what do we look for in candidate?

Protecting Native Sovereignty and meeting the needs of Native Communities are the yardstick by which any candidate is measured, but once in office – actions speak louder than words.

Join your voice to ours… your generous donation helps protect Native America!

Donate Today!

HB2661: Oklahoma is Native America

For so much of our lifetime, the observation, recognition, and celebration of Columbus Day came as another silent indignation for Oklahoma’s Native Nations and Tribal communities. It has stood as an oppressive reminder of Native history.

Finally, the State of Oklahoma provides a path to look to the future with HB2661, the ability to celebrate Native American Day, replacing the other unfortunate reminder.

Native America Action encourages Governor Fallin to sign HB2661, which both the Oklahoma House and Senate have so diligently put forward and passed.

To not sign this bill continues an unfortunate reminder of a painful history.

Oklahoma Election 2018 – Native American Candidates To Watch!

Oklahoma’s Election 2018 is pivotal.  For everyone, it seems.  For Native America, Oklahoma is quickly becoming another Tribal Gaming flash point.

Not unlike our nation, Oklahoma has been systematically separated by the divisive methodology of today’s political party system and what it imposes upon our country.  The left is somehow further left, the right is somehow further right, and all the voices in between become so much noise. This impacts Native Oklahoma in a negative way. In fact, today it is to the point where even Native communities and families may become overwhelmed with the entire process and would be content to stay away.  If they aren’t already.

If this was a planned outcome, it has been wildly successful.

What is Native Oklahoma to do? A great deal of current challenges face Native communities at both the State and Federal level, not to mention recent State Legislative comments regarding Tribal Gaming that could impact Oklahoma’s Tribal Governments in the near future.

The answer is clear.  Native Oklahoma must be involved.  Very involved.

The State of Oklahoma has one of the largest Native populations in the country.  We should have a strong Native voice – one that is focused on Native First, and party politics second.  In this respect, parties truly should be secondary – of course, given years of living within this established (and sometimes seemingly arbitrary) set of divisions created for us to govern, it could be difficult to make such a transition.

Still, that is our purpose, the purpose of Native America Action – to bring awareness of the benefits of Native involvement in politics, to increase voter registration throughout Native communities, and to grow the number of Native candidates running for State and Federal offices.  No matter what the party (To help us, donate to Native America Action).

If you have been fed up with business as usual in Oklahoma, perhaps YOU should consider running for office.

Take your voice to the next level.  If you have been previously involved in Tribal Government, consider bringing your leadership skills to the State of Oklahoma.  The best way to solve the upcoming challenges for Native Oklahoma is to change the equation.  For that, the State needs you.

You would not be alone.

​The following list was compiled thanks to LaRenda Morgan, Director of Native Candidate Relations and Outreach for Native America Action, and to Shane Jett who we owe a very special thanks for his hard work in gathering all of the reference information and filling out the list.

Shane Jett offered his assistance with his disclaimer: ​ Listing of candidates does not imply endorsement. He is enthusiastically supportive of Natives being involved at all levels of government. Integrity is a deciding factor in whether he will support a candidate.

For Native America Action, this list of candidates also does NOT imply endorsement.  This list is provided to inform the Native America Action Network of concerned citizens and is provided specifically to inform those who are Oklahoma residents.  Native America Action is NON-PARTISAN and Native First.  To receive our emails, join here.

 

NATIVE AMERICAN CANDIDATES IN OKLAHOMA 2018


STATEWIDE ELECTIONS:


Governor:
-Kevin Stitt, (R) Tulsa
(Cherokee)


Lieutenant Governor:
-Sen Anastasia A. Pittman (D)
(Seminole)
Senate Bio:


Corporation Commission:
-Ashley Nicole McCray (D)
(Absentee Shawnee)
Facebook:
Facebook Campaign Page:
2017 Article:
2016 Article:


STATE LEGISLATURE:


State House:


Challengers Candidates:


-Jasha Echohawk (D) HD 35
(Pawnee)
Bio:


-Chelsey Branham (D) HD 83
(Chickasaw)
Facebook:
Facebook Campaign Page:


-Carly Hotvedt (D) HD 67
(Cherokee)


-Ajay Pittman (D) HD 99
(Seminole)
https://www.facebook.com/Pittman4HD99/


-Chandler Torbett (D) HD 16
(Muscogee Creek)


-John L. Myers, (D) Vinita HD6
(Cherokee)


Incumbents:


Rep. Will Fourkiller (D) HD 86
(Cherokee)


-Rep. Katie Huffman Henke (R) Tulsa HD71
(Cherokee)
Facebook:
Facebook Campaign Page:


-Rep. “Bobby” Bob Cleveland, (R) HD20
(Choctaw)
Facebook:


Rep. Mark McBride (R)
(Citizen Potawatomi)
Facebook:
Facebook Campaign Page:


-Rep. Cory Williams, (D) Stillwater
(Cherokee)
Facebook:
Facebook Campaign Page:


-Rep. Scott Fetgatter (R) HD 16
(Choctaw)
Facebook:
Facebook Campaign Page:


-Rep. Mike Osburn (R) HD81
(Cherokee)
Facebook:
Facebook Campaign Page:


-Rep. Scooter Park, (R) HD65
(Choctaw)
Facebook:
Facebook Campaign Page:


-Rep. Collin Walke (D) HD87
(Cherokee)
Facebook:
Facebook Campaign Page:


State Senate:


Challenger Candidates:


-Justin Arledge (D) Ardmore SD14
(Chickasaw)
Facebook:
Campaign Page:
Article:


Incumbents:


-Sen. Josh Brecheen, (R)
(Choctaw)
Facebook Campaign Page:


-Sen. Chris Kidd (R) SD31
(Chickasaw)
Facebook:
Facebook Campaign Page:


-Sen. Lonnie Paxton (R) SD23
(Choctaw)
Facebook Campaign Page:


-Sen. Jason N. Smalley (R) SD28
(Citizen Potawatomi)
Facebook:
Facebook Campaign Page:


-Sen. John Sparks (D) SD16
(Cherokee)
Facebook:
Facebook Campaign Page:


COUNTY ELECTIONS:


-Sen. Al McAffrey – Oklahoma County Commissioner District 1
(Choctaw)


MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS:


Mayor David Holt, (R) OKC
(Osage)
Senate Bio:


FEDERAL ELECTIONS:


Challenger Candidates:


Amanda Douglas, (D) Congressional Dist. 1
(Cherokee)
Facebook :
Facebook Campaign Page:
Campaign Page


Mayor Jason Nichols, (D) Tahlequah, 2nd Dist.
(Cherokee)
Personal Facebook:
Facebook Campaign Page:
Campaign Page:


Incumbents:


-Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R) 2nd District
(Cherokee)


Congressman Tom Cole, 4th District
(Chickasaw)

 

 

Coming Soon: OK State Legislators Hope To Raid Tribal Gaming

There is a crisis in the State of Oklahoma.  The Oklahoma Legislature is struggling to come to terms with what its job is to fund Oklahoma Education.  Certainly they are feeling the stress now in the second week of the Oklahoma Teacher Walkout, and in that there are some key indicators coming to light about what the Oklahoma Legislature hopes to leverage to solve their budget crisis in the near future.  Spoiler alert – its Tribal Gaming.

Certain Oklahoma State Legislators have not been hiding it.  Heard publicly at a local Lions Club meeting, Oklahoma Representative Steve Vaughan (Oklahoma District 37) said that he felt Oklahoma Native Nations should pay MORE to the State of Oklahoma.  For those who are more fully aware of Oklahoma’s Tribal Gaming, the massive positive impact it has on the State, and those who have taken the time to understand what Oklahoma’s Tribal Governments have done over and above their standing contributions and compacts with the State – this is a shocking statement.  Yet, its not the only one.

In a Tulsa World article update on April 6, 2018, Oklahoma Senate leadership made themselves very clear.

Majority Floor Leader Sen. Greg Treat debated against the ball and dice bill, saying “I’m very dissatisfied with the way the executive branch have negotiated gaming compacts with the tribes .. I feel the state has been shorted.”

(Tulsa World, “Update: OEA calls for veto of hotel/motel tax repeal, vote on capital gains tax exemption”, http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/government/update-oklahoma-senate-passes-ball-and-dice-bill-to-bring/article_75fedcde-762f-5a21-95cd-b25b6673d2fe.html

Such sentiment is important to note.  The gaming compacts that the State of Oklahoma has made with Oklahoma’s Tribal Governments will be potentially up in January 2020.  The above statements such as Oklahoma State Representative Steve Vaughan, and by the Majority Floor Leader and Senator Greg Treat, are certainly concerning as it lays a foundation of question – even though, as sovereign nations, the Tribal Governments work directly with the Governor of Oklahoma.  That said, within the currently chaotic Oklahoma political climate and with what is being said, this is a critical indicator for an event that is now less than two years away.

Caught within their own self inflicted budget woes, the Oklahoma Legislature attempts to change the narrative in the public’s eye by sowing seeds of discontent among Oklahoma residents.  While the actual facts tell a very different story – these efforts are nothing less than dangerous for Native America and Oklahoma.  It is so concerning, the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association (OIGA) issued a news release on April 6, 2018 to provide facts to new stories, social media, and seemingly to balance the “fake news” being spread by certain Oklahoma Legislators.

It is also important to note that when Tribal Gaming was introduced in 2004’s State Question 712, the State estimated it would bring in an additional $70 Million a year which could in turn be used to benefit Oklahoma Education.  Of course, in that first year of gaming, Tribal Governments paid in over $133 Million dollars, fully exceeding and almost doubling what the State expected in revenue.  As OIGA points out in the years since, Tribal Gaming has paid in over $1.2 Billion of revenue from Tribal Gaming (https://oiga.org/news/oklahoma-indian-gaming-association-offers-accurate-tribal-gaming-information/).  Further, the positive economic impact to the State of Oklahoma because of Tribal Gaming has been over $7.2 Billion – all of which has provided further methods of revenue for the State as well as Local governments through sales taxes.  Of course, Native Nations citizen’s also pay federal income tax, FICA taxes, social security taxes, and state income and property taxes for all who are residing outside of federally recognized reservations.

Yet Tribal Governments do so much more.  Tribal Gaming net revenue for Native Nations can only be used for one of five purposes – funding Tribal Government operations or programs; providing general welfare to the tribe and its members; promotion of Tribal economic development; donating to charitable organizations, and funding operations of local government agencies.  While these might specify what you’d expect Tribal Governments to only contribute to, in reality Tribal Governments do so much more.

One example is the Cherokee Nation. It’s only been just over a month ago, on March 2, 2018, when the Cherokee Nation provided $5.2 Million to 108 different Oklahoma Public Schools.  In an article in the Cherokee Phoenix on March 6, 2018,

‘Many public schools face budget cuts, and the tribe’s allocation helps alleviate shortages, CN officials said.

“A lot of the schools are able to maybe fund a teacher position that they had to let go or purchase a bus. Some of them have purchased athletic equipment. So they do lots of things they don’t have funding in their budget for, and this allows them to do whatever they need for their school because there are no earmarks on that money,” Sharon Swepston, CN Tax Commission administrator, said.’  (Cherokee Phoenix,”Cherokee Nation gives $5.4M to 108 public schools” , http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Article/index/12046)

The revenue the Cherokee Nation provides to Public Schools doesn’t come from Tribal Gaming.  Instead, it comes from a portion of the Cherokee Nation’s jurisdictional motor vehicle tax revenue.  The Cherokee Nation does this to support their citizens who live in Oklahoma, who attend Oklahoma schools as students and their families, and because Cherokee Nation citizens are also among the teaching staff residing in Oklahoma counties.  The Cherokee Nation isn’t the only Tribal Government who does this, but Oklahoma State Legislators seem woefully unaware of the benefits being provided with the State to fill the gaps they’ve inflicted in ten years of cuts to Oklahoma Education.

In the article above, Kenwood School Superintendent Billy Taylor says. “We depend on state funding, but it decreases all the time. So any little thing we get helps us a great deal, probably more important to us than the average school here. Most schools have a tax base greater than us.”

As with other schools, this Delaware County school finds the investment of Tribal dollars to support them to be critical in the shortfall from funding from the State.  The article noted above also relates Superintendent Taylor’s appreciation, “He said school officials are appreciative of the tribe’s impact. He said the money is put into a general fund for school operations and teacher pay.”

Fourteen Oklahoma Counties are positively impacted for the 108 Public Schools, the largest with over a million dollars being awarded to Tulsa County.  Since before Tribal Gaming, in 2002, the Cherokee Nation has provided over $50 Million in funding to its area Oklahoma Public Schools.

In the above Tulsa World article, State Senator Nathan Dahm had hoped to introduce an amendment to table legislation to fund Oklahoma Education with additional Tribal Gaming until a way could be determined that would change gaming compacts so that Tribal Governments pay much more than they do today.  While his amendments were not heard at that time, it is clear where the narrow focus is for many Oklahoma legislators.

This is why the Cherokee Nation decided to speak out.  In a Channel 9 News article updated April 4, 2018, the Cherokee Nation Secretary of State, Chuck Hoskin, offers an example for the Oklahoma Legislature saying, “Frankly, if the state would look to the tribes for leadership, if they would follow our example, this state would be in better shape,” 

(News9.com,”Cherokee Nation Speaks Out Amid Questions About Gaming Funds For Education” , http://www.news9.com/story/37883421/cherokee-nation-speaks-out-amid-questions-about-gaming-funds-for-education)

This comment requires more context to be fully understood.  Tribal Government and Tribal Gaming is well reported and explicitly tracked.  There is absolute full transparency in regards to the Tribal Gaming funds that are paid to the State of Oklahoma for Education.  This contrasts with no reports by the State of Oklahoma as to how those funds are then spent by the State.  No reports, and no transparency.  Its a topic that has come up before with the Oklahoma Legislature and the Governor only to be set aside.  The reality is that no one fully knows how Educational funding, while collected, is actually spent.  With no transparency, there can be no accountability of where the money is going.

Such is the purpose of the Native America SuperPAC.  With the upcoming 2018 election, it is the single best opportunity to hold Oklahoma State Senators and Representatives accountable.  Such transparency is not only needed, it is difficult to imagine exactly why it simply wouldn’t be provided.  Further, casting aspersions upon Tribal Gaming to distract the “public eye” away from the root issues of the Oklahoma Educational budget crisis is playing a game that Oklahoma Legislators have won before and expect to again.

…but there is a difference today.

The Native America SuperPAC is watching.  Closely.  Tribal Gaming is NOT a solution for the Oklahoma Legislature’s budget woes.  It is time to have a voice that politicians understand.  If you lend yours and support the Native America SuperPAC, we can make a difference this year, in this election!

Native America SuperPAC is NON-PARTISAN and Native First.  Donate today.  We are stronger together!


Donate – Native America Action
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Tribal Gaming Has NOT Caused Oklahoma Budget Woes

Oklahoma budget woes abound. None of these woes have anything to do with Oklahoma’s Native Nations who have faithfully contributed to the State in multiple ways. No, these woes are self inflicted.

For the past ten years, the State of Oklahoma – in an calculated and measured manner – chose to cut taxes after taxes and brought what once was a fairly average for a state down to the bottom of the country compared to other states. The Oklahoma Legislature also freely chose to impose upon themselves the inability to pass adding revenue to the State unless they had a 75% ultra-super majority to make sure they were hampered by a slim minority of the State. Now, with the Oklahoma Education funding beyond repair; with Oklahoma school administrators and teachers with no further options; with even school boards around the state in an uproar of the lack of Oklahoma legislature efforts; now some State Legislators question and suggest that perhaps Tribal gaming could do more. This is finger pointing, plain and simple.

For Native communities and Tribal governments, at least one of those fingers always seems to get pointed towards Tribal gaming whenever the State needs revenue. This is unfortunate because Oklahoma’s Native Nations and Native communities around the State seem to be the only ones who have to pay multiple times for the State of Oklahoma’s poor budget decisions. Before we get to that however, it is important to say – Oklahoma Native Nations contribute more than their fair share. Nearly 10% of the funding needed for Oklahoma Education comes on the back of Tribal gaming, and Native Nations are VERY transparent about what is being paid. 88% of everything paid to the State of Oklahoma is to be spent for Oklahoma’s educational programs. This last year, that totaled almost $134 Million.

It’s no secret, you can see the breakout by each Oklahoma Native Nation in the chart below.

The total amount provided to the State of Oklahoma’s Educational funding for K-12 has been over $1.2 Billion.

Further, there is an economic impact by having Tribal gaming. Native casino’s bring in commerce to Oklahoma as it attracts people to not only enjoy gaming but to attend music concerts, restaurants, hotel stays, as well as retail, gas, and everything else visitors to Oklahoma casinos might do in addition to going to the casino. This economic impact to the State of Oklahoma is over $7.2 Billion. The State of Oklahoma, through its traditional revenue generation, has enjoyed a portion of all of that money.

Yet that’s not the end for Native American communities. Just like all other Oklahoma residents, Native families attend area schools. The local taxes paid by Native families also go to supposedly support the local schools, and of course the State of Oklahoma enjoys a portion of all of that money through the many State taxes already in place such as what is charged in a gallon of gas at the gas station, or the many other areas of revenue for the State. In essence, Native Americans are double dipped as they must provide funds to the State through their respective Native Nations via Tribal Gaming, as well as being residents of the State of Oklahoma, whose families live amongst the cities and counties of the State, and whose children also attend many Oklahoma public schools. There is an economic impact for the State of Oklahoma never considered when these “fingers” get pointed.

There is no question that Oklahoma’s Tribal Governments and Native communities pay their share (which as described is more than fair). The question is – is the State of Oklahoma spending the money provided to them by Tribal gaming for Educational funding?

Now, that’s a real question!

In a recent article in National Review, former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican, pointed to two serious problems that the State of Oklahoma has that are the reason for these budget woes. First, Senator Coburn says Oklahoma has a lack of leadership.

‘“Our problem is leadership,” Tom Coburn, a former U.S. senator, tells me in an interview. “The problem is that the legislature hasn’t done its job. We need to pay teachers more — everybody agrees with that — but how they’ve gone about it is the wrong way.”’

 

“Oklahoma’s Education Disaster”, April 3, 2018, by Mark Antonio Wright; National Review. (https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/04/oklahoma-education-disaster/)

Secondly, Tom Coburn points out the real issue with our current Oklahoma leadership as he questions the legitimacy of their spending.

‘“We have enough money — more than enough money,” Coburn tells me, “to give every teacher a $7,000-per-year raise,” if the state government will simply do its job, cut waste, and spend taxpayers’ money efficiently.’

The real issue then is transparency.

Oklahoma’s Tribal Gaming is very transparent. The money going in is duly reported and is available for anyone to see. What the State of Oklahoma uses it for, and how they spend it – we simply don’t know. What we do know is that the State has gotten in trouble before for illegally spending money, even if it is specifically earmarked, such as the the Oklahoma Lottery Trust Fund set up to benefit Oklahoma Education. When the Oklahoma Lottery was established, it was set up in a trust fund that legally can only be used to enhance Oklahoma Education. It specifically was established so as not to relieve the State of Oklahoma of its responsibility to fully fund Oklahoma Education. Yet last year, as reported by numerous news agencies around the State, the Oklahoma Legislator illegally supplemented educational funding with millions of dollars from this trust fund. (For more information – See NewsOK’s article from March 16, 2017 titled “Lottery Money Found To Be Illegally Supplanting Education Funding For The First Time In Oklahoma” http://newsok.com/article/5542026)

Transparency by the Oklahoma Legislature is needed. Perhaps now it is a necessity even more than ever. Tom Coburn not only agrees with this, he wants to make this a reality.

‘“We need a constitutional convention to reform our constitution to make us a viable, thriving state,” Coburn says. The state needs a more powerful constitutional role for the governor’s office, he adds, and “transparency about how we spend our money.”

“How about the citizens of Oklahoma being able to see [how state funds are spent]?” Coburn asks. Indeed, Fallin vetoed a bill that would have published how the state spends its money. “How dare her,” Coburn says. “We do that on the federal level — you can go to openthebooks.com and find out everything. But in the state, we can’t know how we spend our money.”’

This, then, is the root issue for Oklahoma.

The State needs to be transparent about exactly what it is spending its millions of dollars it receives from Tribal Gaming on currently before any attempt to look back and imply that Oklahoma’s Native Nations and Tribal Gaming isn’t paying its fair share.

Tribal Gaming is not the cause of the State of Oklahoma’s budget woes. It also cannot be the solution.

Native America Action Attends Women In Tribal Gaming Symposium

Pictured above is Native America Action’s Raven Morgan, LaRenda Morgan, and Kristen McCormick attending this event.

The Tribal Gaming Protection Network’s second annual Women In Tribal Gaming Symposium was held on February 13th and 14th at the Morongo Casino Resort and Spa in Cabazon, California. Native America Action’s Kristen McCormick, LaRenda Morgan, and Raven Morgan attended this year’s event. Kristen McCormick is the Director of Legislative Affairs; LaRenda Morgan is the Director of Native Candidate Relations and Outreach; and Raven Morgan is a Native America Action Outreach volunteer. Their attendance of this important event signifies Native America Action and the Native America SuperPAC’s focus on Native Sovereignty, which has an important intersection with Tribal Gaming. Tribal Gaming faces significant challenges currently in various states across the country, and as such this is a high priority for the Native America SuperPAC.

LaRenda Morgan (middle) with the Chairman of the Tribal Gaming Protection Network, Andrew Hofstetter (left), and Forest County Potawatomi Gaming Commission Compliance Officer Jamie Kellicut (right).

The Tribal Gaming Protection Network (TPGN) promotes and facilitates diverse topics in education, training, and networking amongst tribes for the purpose of protecting tribal sovereignty, governments, and gaming entities against internal and external threats. The Women in Tribal Gaming Symposium focuses on professional and social enrichment with breakout sessions topics on professional development as well as TPGN’s initiative on Human Trafficking. The Tribal Gaming Protection Network can be found at www.tgpnglobal.com.

Pictured above are Native America Action Directors Kristen McCormick (Left) and LaRenda Morgan (Right) at the Morongo Casino, Resort, and Spa for the Women In Tribal Gaming Symposium

Native America Action and the Native America SuperPAC is NON-partisan and Native First, focused on protecting Native Sovereignty, and Native Culture by holding Federal and State elected officials of all political parties accountable for the legislative decisions they make that impact Tribal Governments, Native Communities, and Native Families. Funding for Native America Action and the Native America SuperPAC comes from concerned citizens and organizations.

Your generous donation will assist in continuing our efforts and adds your voice to our voice for all of Native America.


Donate – Native America Action
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Or you can mail a check made out to Native America Action to:

Native America Action
1611 S Utica Ave
#519
Tulsa, Ok, 74104


On The Subject Of Sovereignty – A Word From The Executive Director

Sovereignty.  It is, perhaps, the foundational element of any people’s existence.  Self-determination and self-government, and the formal recognition of such is essential for any group of people whether they be a nation, a state, or even a county or a city.  For the majority of America, each day progresses into the next without any thought or even concern about this because such things have been in place generation after generation.

For Native Americans however, this has been a very different experience.  Treaties established so many generations ago aren’t known by most people in our modern United States, including those who may hold office within our government.  History, as often is the case, isn’t the foremost on anyone’s mind which is why there is always a present danger of repeating it.

While the Native America SuperPAC and its outreach, Native America Action, continue to focus on protecting Native Sovereignty in the activities and actions within our Legislative or the Executive branches of Federal and State Governments, there is something occurring right now on the Judicial side that has our full attention.  It is about Sovereignty.  …and it is a compelling and intriguing situation.

The State of Oklahoma is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review an “Indian Country” ruling that would create the requirement for a “new” kind of federal recognition.  This request comes because the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a decision of a murder case in favor of a Creek Nation citizen.  This murder case became unique due to the assertion by the defense that United States Congress never went through the proper process to eliminate or dissolve the treaty established boundaries of the Creek Nation as set in 1866, and as such the State of Oklahoma was wrong to prosecute his case.  Pausing the many questions that spring to mind regarding the specifics of the case, it is clear the State of Oklahoma has grave concerns about their State Sovereignty.

Keep in mind, Native Nation’s treaty rights, and treaty recognition, is a sharp thorn that Native Americans feel nearly daily for many different reasons in many different locations across the United States. It also cannot be said that these treaties are truly forgotten as many remain today “on the books” with the Federal government.  Yet, their very existence is often forgotten or an inconvenience for State and Federal agencies, if they are known at all.  Perhaps it is better said in our modern day that treaties are simply ignored.  That may be a strong word, but it is nonetheless true.  A less strong description would be that long-established treaties are not known or understood today…  Not by those working within State and Federal agencies, and not by elected members of our U.S. Congress.

In its petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, the State of Oklahoma’s Attorney General makes the case for State Sovereignty.  From Oklahoma’s perspective, this is a valid concern.  The decision as it stands would formally recognize the Creek Nation’s boundaries, which have simply been ignored by the growth of the State of Oklahoma with the passage of time.  The reestablishment of these boundaries where law enforcement of Creek Nation citizens is concerned puts the 11 Oklahoma counties suddenly within and under the jurisdiction of the Creek Nation.  As a sovereign nation with a standing treaty made between them and the United States Congress, the Creek Nation’s laws and enforcement would be applied to these counties instead of State and Local law enforcement.

Naturally, this concerns State officials.  It is an understandable position.  For many generations the State of Oklahoma has grown and these 11 counties are Oklahoma counties.  Yet perspective here helps.  This ruling creates an inconvenience for the State of Oklahoma in reality because it is “re-recognizing” the Creek Nation… …as it was originally recognized by the United States when they so inconveniently forced the Creek Nation’s removal to Indian Territory.  It wasn’t convenient for the Creek Nation then, and the established boundaries as recognized were hung on the promise that the United States would respect them.  As generations seemingly passed, the treaty and promises went from ignored to forgotten to possibly even unknown by people today.  The perceived and or actual loss of Sovereignty is scary.

Oklahoma’s Attorney General asserts in its petition that stripping Oklahoma of criminal jurisdiction over all Indians in this densely populated area – would render Oklahoma a fractured, second-class State.  Further, their assertion is that federal agents would be required to enforce the laws within the Creek Nation boundaries.  This premise of this assertion stems from the original established treaties with Native Nations.  Only U.S. Congress can ratify a treaty with a sovereign nation, and as such only the Federal government can interact with a federally recognized Native Nation.  However, the Attorney General’s assertion goes too far.  The Creek Nation today works with Local and State law enforcement agencies. It would and should be up to the Creek Nation as to how law enforcement is to proceed if this ruling stands.  Should the Creek Nation be interested, no doubt it could come to agreements with the State of Oklahoma as to how law enforcement should work going forward.  Perhaps everything continues as it does today with the exception that the Creek Nation has jurisdiction and enforces them with establishing new agreements with Local and State law enforcement agencies.  Of course, this could depend on how strong a relationship the State of Oklahoma has fostered with the Creek Nation.  If it is healthy, with the appropriate earned trust on both sides, this need not be an issue.  If the State doesn’t have a healthy relationship, perhaps the Creek Nation would instead engage and hire its own law enforcement to cover the area.  In any case, the assertion that the FBI somehow would now provide Local and State enforcement for the Creek Nation may well be an overreaching assertion on the Attorney General’s part.

Then there is a matter of history.  Oklahoma became a state in 1907.  It is possible that most Oklahomans aren’t even aware of how difficult a process this was.  In reality, the “state” at the time was very fractured and in fact was two very different territories, Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory. But Indian Territory existed first and was originally established to be the home for relocated Native communities and nations.  Certainly the Five Civilized Tribes, upon relocation, provided a strong leadership role for the region.  The land rush, authorized by Congress in spite of previous promises, opened up new land within the territory for settlement in 1889 and eventually the Oklahoma Territory would be carved out of what had been provided for Natives.  Yet, it was the Five Civilized tribes who first submitted a petition to U.S. Congress for statehood in 1905, with proposed State of Sequoyah.  Because there are too many (yet historically interesting) reasons at the time to describe, Congress did not grant this request.  Eventually Congress did act upon taking both the Oklahoma territory and the Indian Territory and making them a state – but not without a struggle and a fight between the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.  In reality, the State of Oklahoma began its very existence fractured.  Such is the state’s history – unique perhaps from which it was born, but that uniqueness continues today whether it is fully recognized by the State that contains 39 federally recognized Native tribes or not.

The U.S. Department of Justice provided a filing that underscored its concern that this matter could have significant and wide-ranging implications for law enforcement if allowed to stand, echoing perhaps the concern of Oklahoma’s Attorney General.  To this, it is easy to agree while disagreeing about the outcome.  The 10th Circuit Court has (finally) brought to light the inconvenient truth that has always existed – it was originally ignored, then forgotten, then it was as if it never had been – the Creek Nation’s boundaries have been intruded upon and its Sovereignty has been disregarded by both the Federal Government of the United States as well as the State Government of Oklahoma.  In truth, so many citizens of the great State of Oklahoma and the Creek Nation have been living fractured, burdened by this lack of recognition, this lack of understanding, and this lack of respect… …for Sovereignty.

It is unknown what the U.S. Supreme Court will see fit to do, but let us not pretend that the State of Oklahoma isn’t already fractured.  Depending on the census year, Oklahoma is home to the second largest population of Native Americans.  Yes, it is the great State of Oklahoma, and there is no reason that this cannot continue.  If anything, should this ruling stand, the Creek Nation will be in a position to work with the United States and the State of Oklahoma to help chart Oklahoma’s future.  They will add their voice to the voice of the State, and we will all be stronger for it because – we are stronger together.

 

Scott Carr

Executive Director

Native America SuperPAC

 

About Native America SuperPAC and Native America Action:

Native America Action is a non-partisan and Native First outreach organization to provide voter registration and Native participation throughout Native communities. The Native America Super PAC, is unaffiliated and non-partisan, and intends to make independent expenditures to wholly serve the needs and concerns of Native Nations, Native communities, and Native families.  Native America SuperPAC and Native America Action is funded by organizations and concerned citizens.


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