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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

Tribal Relations

As an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation, I am very proud of my heritage and the tremendous accomplishments of tribes in Oklahoma and across our country. The U.S. Constitution and the federal government recognize that Native American tribes are sovereign entities with separate governments and rights that should be honored and respected. Indeed, tribes have a unique relationship with state and local governments, as well as the federal government.

Native Americans are aggressively working toward building Native economies and governments, and I am committed to making sure they have the tools and resources to continue these efforts. Through numerous treaties, as well as legislation, the United States has promised to provide this care, and I will work to make sure these promises are kept. I support efforts to increase business opportunities and economic development in Indian Country. Specifically, I support the use of tax incentives for businesses that locate or expand on former Indian lands or hire Native Americans and their spouses.  

I believe each tribe, with its own government and rights, should be honored and respected. Tribes should work mutually with the states and the federal government to maintain the integrity of their heritage, culture and legal rights. I also believe the federal government must comply with its trust and treaty obligation. That requires Washington to appropriately fund healthcare, education, infrastructure and law enforcement in Indian Country. 

More on Tribal Relations

November 25, 2013 Press Release

Shawnee, OK – As part of President Obama’s commitment to self-determination of tribal nations, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn today joined Citizen Potawatomi Nation Chairman John Barrett to formally approve tribal leasing regulations that will help spur investment and commercial development on the nation’s trust lands in central Oklahoma.

November 20, 2013 Press Release

Washington, D.C.
– Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) and Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-04), co-chairs of the Native American Congressional Caucus, participated in a ceremony today that honored Native American code talkers with the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor. Out of the 33 tribes recognized, 10 tribes are from Oklahoma and three (Choctaw, Comanche and Kiowa) are from the Fourth District of Oklahoma.

November 13, 2013 News Stories

The Oklahoman - Chris Casteel

Since first taking office in 2009, President Barack Obama has promised American Indians that his administration would listen to them.

Wednesday, five of his Cabinet secretaries sat on a stage in an Interior Department auditorium and listened to Indian tribal leaders vent — on issues ranging from tax reform and land issues to health care funding.

October 14, 2013 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed H.J. Res 80, the American Indian and Alaska Native, Health, Education, and Safety Act. This bill passed by a vote of 233-160 and provides immediate funding for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) and Indian Health Service (HIS)

June 27, 2013 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) and Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-04), co-chairs of the Congressional Native American Caucus, released a joint statement after President Obama issued an executive order to establish the White House Council on Native American Affairs. According to the order announced on Wednesday, this new council comes with the mission “to promote and sustain prosperous and resilient Native American tribal governments.”

June 14, 2013 Press Release
Legislation calls for construction of memorial to honor veterans
May 15, 2013 News Stories

Huffington Post - Garance Burke

When Liz DeRouen needs any kind of health care services, from diabetes counseling to a dental cleaning, she checks into a government-funded clinic in Northern California's wine country that covers all her medical needs.

April 1, 2013 News Stories

Chickasaw Times - Tom Bolitho

The Indian women of the U.S.won a huge victory March 7 when President Barack Obama signed the bill reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

The bill was signed by the President at the U.S. Department of Interior with a score of Indian women there in support. Also invited to the signing was the key Indian Congressman who was the driving force behind the new “teeth” in the bill – U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, a Chickasaw.

March 7, 2013 Speech

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) made the following remarks on the House floor in support of S.47, the Violence Against Women Act:

I want to praise Leader Cantor for his hard work and effort to truly understand the problems Indian women face.  The House version has improved tremendously over what this body passed last Congress, and that is due in large part to Leader Cantor’s efforts.

March 4, 2013 Weekly Columns

The rate of domestic violence and sexual assault for Native American women has reached epidemic proportions due in large part to a stunning legal loophole that severely limits tribal ability to prosecute these crimes.  Until recently, non-Indians accused of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes against tribal members could only be prosecuted by the federal government and some states – not by the local tribal courts.