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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 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 30, 2010 Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) today released the following statement after House passage of H.R. 4783, the Claims Resolution Act of 2010. The legislation provides for the settlement of a 14-year-old class action suit in which over 500,000 American Indians sought an accounting of mismanaged trust accounts held by the United States for the benefit of individual Indian beneficiaries. The legislation passed the Senate on November 19 by unanimous consent, and a similar measure has twice passed the House.

July 22, 2010 Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) made the following statement after the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior approved language to amend the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 (IRA) to reaffirm the authority of the Secretary of Interior to take land into trust for Indian tribes. The policy would address issues created by the Carcieri v. Salazar decision:

July 21, 2010 Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) made the following statement after the House passed H.R. 725, the Indian Arts and Crafts Amendments Act, which included amendments to the Tribal Law and Order Act:

April 6, 2010 Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) made the following statement upon the passing of Wilma Mankiller:

"All Oklahomans and every Native American who knew her mourn the passing of Wilma Mankiller.  Chief Mankiller was not only the first woman to serve as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, she was a national icon and role model for women and Native Americans everywhere.

December 8, 2009 Speech

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) and Congressmen Dale E. Kildee (D-MI), Co-Chairs of the House Native American Caucus, praised today’s announcement of a long-awaited settlement of the Cobell lawsuit regarding the mismanagement of over 300,000 individual Indian trust accounts by the U.S. Government.