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Governors Report - March

Hello Fellow Tribal Members,

I hope everyone is staying well as the flu and other illnesses are hitting the community hard. I want to get started by thanking everyone who attended the Community Meeting on January 26, 2019, at the Multipurpose Building on the Absentee Shawnee Tribal Complex. It was nice to see everyone that attended the community meeting and listening to questions and concerns. I know there are some in the community that takes issue with ideas or projects the Executive  Committee or an individual Executive Committee member is working on. But rest assured whether popular or not, these ideas or projects are thought of to improve the Tribe.

I want to address a question that was directed to me at the Community Meeting about a medical marijuana license for the Tribe. The question was, “Did the Attorney General tell me not to submit for a medical marijuana license?” The answer is no. The Attorney General indicated that there is no law prohibiting a Tribe from applying for a medical marijuana license, but federal law classifies marijuana as a Class I drug and restricts tribes from production and dispensing.

During one of our weekly informal Executive Committee meetings in August 2018, the 5 elected officials had discussions about whether to submit for a medical marijuana license. After that discussion, the conclusion was to go ahead and submit for a medical marijuana license, all of us agreed. Our hope was that it would not be long before federal law changes to allow Tribes to enter the medical marijuana industry. At the time, H.R. 6043 (STATES Act) was introduced in Congress to amend the Controlled Substance Act that would allow Tribes to produce and dispense medical marijuana in states where it is permitted. When this bill or similar a bill is passed in Congress, the Tribe will be ready to start a business. The State of Oklahoma started taking applications on August 25, 2018.  The licensing process for the Absentee Shawnee Tribe was started on August 25, 2018, and finished on the 28th of August as I stated in the October 2018 AST Newsletter. The fee for submission was $2,500.00. The address submitted in the application is 40220 Benson Park Road, Shawnee, Ok 74801, on the NW corner of Benson Park Road and Highway 177, the old Lillard Pipe property and the business name is Absentee Shawnee Tribe. To date, the Tribe has not received approval for a medical marijuana license from the state.

There is nothing wrong with the Tribe being ready for when the federal
law changes. This could be an economic boost to the Tribe, especially since we do not have but one other tribal business, the Tribal Store and the ice machine, outside of Thunderbird Casinos. I have never put the tribe in jeopardy, and I am not about to do so now. I will always protect the Tribe from harm.

Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association (OIGA)

Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association was established in 1986, non-profit organization of Indian Nations with other non-voting associate members representing organizations, tribes, and businesses engaged in tribal gaming enterprises from around Oklahoma. The common commitment and purpose of OIGA is to advance the welfare of Indian peoples economically, socially and politically.

OIGA shared number figures of what Gaming contributed to the State
of Oklahoma. Oklahoma’s Tribal Gaming industry’s output (value of sales) is $9,586,889,121.
• Jobs that were created of full-time equivalents, is 74,723.
• Wages, measured as salaries, wages, bonuses, tips and benefits are
• Oklahoma’s Tribal Gaming Industry has been responsible for tax
revenue and revenue share payments (revenue share payments consist
of agreed upon gaming-related payments by tribes to federal, state, and
local governments.) in the amount of $1,635,473,017.
• Oklahoma has the second largest Native American population in the
The United States, behind California. According to the 2010 Census, 482,760 Oklahomans identified as Native American alone or in combination with other races.
• A meeting was held on January 28, 2019, at the Oklahoma Judicial
Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

British Ambassador Sir Kim Darroch

On February 6, 2019, I was invited to meet with the Ambassador at the
Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Oklahoma along with Tribal Leaders from other Tribes. The Ambassador made this meeting his high priority to meet to gain more understanding of Tribes. Tribal leaders were given an opportunity to speak about their respective Tribes including the history and current operation of government. While talking about our tribe, I informed Ambassador Darroch that the Shawnee’s greatest warrior, Tecumseh, fight with the British in the Ware of 1812.
This is an important part of U.S. and British history, as Tecumseh’s effort was to prevent the westward encroachment of white settlers into tribal lands. Unfortunately, Tecumseh is more revered outside of the United States.

Ambassador Darroch served as the Prime Minister’s National Security Advisor from January 2012 to September 201. While acting as the Secretary of the National Security Council, Ambassador Darroch leads the National Security Team on issues like the rise of Daesh in Iraq and Syria; Russian aggression in Ukraine; the nuclear threat from Iran; and the collapse of governmental authority in Libya.

Title VI – Indian Education – Shawnee Indian Education Parent Committee

Meeting The Shawnee Public Schools Indian Education Parent Committee held a meeting where graduation stoles were part of the discussion. The Parent Committee and those in attendance agreed to graduate Indian students should be given a stole and allowed to wear it at graduation. In the past, there has been reluctance from the Shawnee Public School Administration to allow our Indian students to wear graduation stole from their respected Tribe. Tribal leaders and Tribal Education Directors will be working with the Parent Committee to resolve this issue with the school’s administration. It is my understanding the Parent Committee approached the Shawnee Public Schools’ Superintendent to talk about Indian students wearing stoles at graduation, but the Parent Committee was directed to other administrative personnel. This kind of action is disturbing and disrespectful, showing that our Native children may not be getting a fair opportunity for quality education and are being treated in a negative manner. If Indian parents were brushed off in a disrespectful manner, then my instincts may be right about how Indian children are treated in the Shawnee School System. Students identifying with their Tribe while in school should be encouraged not discouraged. Oklahoma has 39 federally recognized Tribes and our Indian students should be able to wear stoles from their respective tribes, feathers, or anything that makes them proud to be Native American. The Absentee Shawnee 

The tribe has 11 seniors graduating from Shawnee Public Schools in May. This is the highest number of Absentee Shawnee graduating seniors at one school since I have been in office. Education Director Tresha Spoon and I will be ordering stoles and honoring all enrolled Absentee Shawnee high school graduating seniors. Please contact Tresha Spoon regarding the graduation stoles. We are proud of our students and wish them well in the future!

For those families who may have lost a loved one this month, I offer my sincere condolences to you and your family on your loss.

I appreciate Tribal Members that have come by my office or called with
their concerns. My door is open unless I am in a meeting or attending a meeting
elsewhere. My office is not behind locked doors.

Help me make a difference and stand beside me and let us Build for the Future


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