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STATE OF THE NATIONS: Sold out crowd attends inaugural State of Tribal Nations

Posted at 4:54 PM, Apr 18, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-19 17:16:20-04

TULSA, Okla. — Tribal Nations were on full display in south Tulsa on April 18.

850 people gathered for the Tulsa Regional Chamber’s inaugural State of the Tribal Nations event.

“This, though, reflects where we are in the state, and that’s a really good thing,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.

Hundreds of people packed into the Renaissance Convention Center, where tribal nations were front and center.

“It’s great to be around people who are for progress and working together,” said Osago Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear.

“We add so much to the cultural fabric of this state, and I think people recognize that,” said Chief Hoskin Jr.

The event focused on three different areas:

  • Tribal leadership
  • Economic development
  • Tourism and cultural education.

“That is all going to mean more production in this state which means more jobs for this state, more economic ripple effect,” said Chief Hoskin Jr.
Tourism is big business in Oklahoma, and the tribes said showing their culture their way helps drive authentic stories and better understanding. The event also focused on several economic development projects that are in the works.

“You have to pay attention to the world, and it’s really the future,” said Chief Standing Bear.

Chief Standing Bear said the Osage Nation is focusing on drones with its Skyway 36 initiative. They’ll use the buildings just west of the Osage Casino to test and develop drone technology.

Secretary of the Muscogee Nation, Zechariah Harjo, said they’re using drones to fight crime.

“That has increased the ability for criminal justice and law enforcement to go into the rural areas of Oklahoma and not just Oklahoma, of course, but rural America and start analyzing from afar where there could be illegal or illicit activity,” said Harjo.

Tribal sovereignty has been a contentious topic since the Supreme Court’s landmark McGirt ruling in 2020, which gave tribes the authority to prosecute crimes on their land involving their people.

The tribal leaders at the event said the collaboration at the State of the Tribal Nations is what will help move the state forward.

“The tribes, cities, counties working together, and that’s how you get it done,” said Chief Standing Bear.

Tribal leaders say they’re hoping to see this event happen yearly.

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