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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

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.
December 11, 2013 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – The House today unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-2) to allow construction of a memorial to Native American veterans on the grounds of the National Museum of the American Indian.

H.R. 2319 passed the House with a bipartisan vote of 398-0.

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.