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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 a variety of services and payments to tribes, 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 obligations. That requires Washington to appropriately fund healthcare, education, infrastructure and law enforcement in Indian Country. 

More on Tribal Relations

July 23, 2015 Press Release
Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) and Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-04), co-chairs of the Native American Congressional Caucus, this week introduced H.R. 3137, to reaffirm the trust status of tribal trust lands. The legislation ensures that existing tribal lands will continue to be held in trust by the federal government and removes the uncertainty and ambiguities inherent within the Carcieri v. Salazar opinion.
July 8, 2015 News Stories

Indian Country Today - Harlan McKosato

The campaign to bring the remains of legendary Native athlete Jim Thorpe home is gathering support after lawyers representing Thorpe’s two remaining sons, Bill and Richard Thorpe, along with the Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma, filed a writ of certiorari to petition the Court to hear their case after losing in U.S Appeals Court last October.

June 12, 2015 Press Release
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today announced that her bipartisan bill to improve the lives of Native children was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) helped introduce the bill in the Senate, where it unanimously passed less than two weeks ago.
March 23, 2015 Speech
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) made remarks on the House floor in support of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act (NAHASDA) of 2015.
November 12, 2014 Press Release
Washington, DC - Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after it was announced that Dr. Suzan Harjo will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom later this month. A native of Oklahoma, Harjo is a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes and has long advocated for Native Americans, including as the Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians and currently as the President of the Morning Star Institute.
November 3, 2014 Weekly Columns

At an early age, my mother taught me about the importance of my Native American heritage, and I have carried that with me throughout my life with a great sense of pride. As a member of the Chickasaw Nation, I am pleased that November marks a special time to nationally recognize the significant contributions, achievements and history of all tribes. There is certainly a lot to celebrate this month.

June 26, 2014 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Building on the strong support for her Commission on Native Children bill, U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, today announced that Republican Congressman Tom Cole from Oklahoma introduced her bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

April 25, 2014 News Stories

Miami Herald - Kristi Eaton

Political leaders, Native American tribal members, scholars and community members gathered Friday to dedicate a statue of a renowned Chickasaw storyteller who broke stereotypes over her six-decade career.

Te Ata Thompson Fisher surpassed the limitations placed on Native Americans and women, Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby said at the dedication of the sculpture at the University of Science and Arts.

April 10, 2014 Press Release
Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the passing of Edmond Harjo. A member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, Harjo was one of the last surviving Native American code talkers.
April 3, 2014 Press Release
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) praised the Department of Interior after it was announced that the first quarterly transfer of funds to the Cobell Education Scholarship Fund will begin this week.