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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

Oklahoman: Cole, Lankford sponsor bill to wipe out laws that hurt Native Americans

July 11, 2019
News Stories

Oklahoman - Chris Casteel

U.S. Sen. James Lankford and U.S. Rep. Tom Cole said Wednesday they are cosponsoring legislation to repeal unenforced federal laws that serve as "a painful reminder" of discrimination against Native Americans.

Cole, R-Moore, a member of the Chickasaw Nation, said, “While dark chapters in our history cannot be erased, I am encouraged that the (legislation) would do away with some discriminatory policies toward Native Americans that are still written in federal law.

“Though no longer enforced, these laws are a painful reminder of the past suffering and poor treatment experienced by Native Americans. I am proud to join with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers to introduce this important legislation, and I am hopeful for its swift passage in Congress.”

The bill is being sponsored by senators and House members from Oklahoma, Arizona and South Dakota. According to a news release, the bill would repeal “several outdated federal laws that are discriminatory against Native Americans, including laws that allow for the forced removal of Native American children from their homes to be sent to boarding schools and laws subjecting Native Americans to forced labor.”

Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby said, "We appreciate Congressman Cole, Senator Lankford and other members of Congress for their work on this important legislation. This act helps provide a foundation of mutual respect and understanding for our government-to-government relationship, which is vital as we work together for the benefit of everyone concerned.”

The Cherokee Nation similarly applauded the effort.

“The Cherokee Nation supports our Congressional leaders in this effort to repeal a series of antiquated and hostile laws aimed at American Indians,” said Vice President of Government Relations for Cherokee Nation Kim Teehee.

“In the modern world where we strive to embrace tolerance and understanding, there is no room for these relics of the past that promote misconceptions, stereotypes and stigmas of federally recognized tribes. Today, across the country, tribal nations are strong, powerful sovereign governments with tribal citizens who significantly contribute to the culture and economic growth within our respective states.”

Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, said the bill “ensures that we acknowledge and work to solve some of our nation’s previous belittling of Native Americans through our laws.

“As we continue to cultivate our national values based on respect and dignity for all people, we can and should address antiquated and offensive old laws put in place to specifically isolate Native Americans. I look forward to the consideration of our bill in the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.”

Online: Oklahoman