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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.

I am proud to continue leading as co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus. The caucus remains a vitally important body in the House for informing and educating members on the unique issues concerning Native Americans and the constitutional rights of tribes.”

More on Tribal Relations

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.
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 remarks on the House floor in support of S.47, the Violence Against Women Act.
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. 

February 28, 2013 Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the House passed S. 47, the Violence Against Women Act.  The legislation recognizes the jurisdiction of tribal courts over non-Indian offenders arrested for committing domestic violence or assault against women.  Under current law, non-Indians accused of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes against tribal members can only be prosecuted by the federal government and some states, but the U.S.

January 14, 2013 News Stories

Armoreite - Staff Report

Oklahoma Fourth District Representative Tom Cole said that the Chickasaw Nation Diabetes Care Center in Ada "sets the standard" for this type of facility.
Cole visited the center one week after Congress voted to renew the Special Diabetes Program for Indians as part of the American Tax Payer Relief Act of 2012.

"I've seen any number of these things, and this is probably the premier diabetes prevention, treatment and research center in Indian Country," Cole said.