Five Tribes Endorse Hofmeister, Call Stitt ‘Most Anti-Indian Governor in Oklahoma’s History’

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“Kevin Stitt is the most anti-Indian governor in state history,” Cherokee Nation senior chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. told PBS. NewsTime. “He went out of his way to pick every fight he could pick with the tribes, and he really demonstrated that he fundamentally doesn’t see a place for the tribes in the state of Oklahoma in the 21st century. “

According to PBS NewsTime, after being elected in 2018, Stitt bragged about his Cherokee heritage and was announced as the second governor in US history with Native American ancestry. However, despite this connection to the state’s indigenous people and promises to strengthen health care and renegotiate gambling pacts, he failed to do so, and his promises remained just promises.

During his first six months in office, Stitt reportedly traveled and spoke to tribal leaders about the terms of gambling pacts that he said were expiring. However, when the time came to do so, he tried to renegotiate them instead. A court case even ensued after the tribes rejected Stitt’s call to renegotiate.

According to PBS NewsTime, Oklahoma has the second most casinos in the United States, after Nevada. With an impact of more than $9 million, the Chickasaw, Choctaw and Cherokee Nations were among Oklahoma’s 25 largest employers in 2021, according to the state Department of Commerce.

Hofmeister, on the other hand, told PBS NewsTime that her relationship with the five tribes extends far beyond her campaign and was built during her nearly eight years as superintendent, during which she worked with tribal leaders to help support the indigenous students. She noted that she helped ensure tribal sovereignty was taught as part of Oklahoma’s Native American history, which she helped ensure was a subject in public schools. of State.

“It’s not a cultivated relationship for the campaign,” she told PBS. NewsTime. “It was a huge honor to receive their endorsement, but it speaks to the deep divisions and bridges that Kevin Stitt has burned.”

Tribal members shared that Hofmeister has not only maintained a relationship with them, but is willing to work with tribal governments and shares the same mindset with Oklahoma Native leaders on issues of economic priorities, health and safety.

“She also demonstrated something we need in politics, and we need in office holders, which is a genuine curiosity and interest in sovereignty and how it can not only benefit tribes but also the nation. state,” said Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., Cherokee Nation. , according to ABC News affiliate KOCO.

Leaders of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Muscogee, Choctaw and Seminole nations — the state’s five largest tribes — formally announced their endorsement of Hofmeister in Oklahoma City in October. According to News 2 Oklahoma, the five tribes together represent more than 800,000 citizens of indigenous nations living across the country.

The announcement marked the first time in recent history that an endorsement of this nature has been made by the state’s five major tribes.

The statement said:

“As a candidate for governor, Joy Hofmeister recognizes that we all want the same things: safe communities, a strong economy, a stable workforce, a well-funded education, investments in our infrastructure and a focus continues on health and well-being, family and community. When it comes to working with the tribal nations of Oklahoma, she understands that our sovereignty is not a partisan issue or a threat, but rather a chance to forge new partnerships while strengthening existing ones because that Oklahomans thrive together when we all work together. This year’s Oklahoma gubernatorial election is the most important in generations for all Oklahomans, and that’s why the leaders of the five tribes are endorsing Joy Hofmeister to be Oklahoma’s 29th.e Governor.”

According to the National Congress of American Indians, one in three Native American adults in the country were not registered to vote in 2012, which equates to approximately 1 million voters.

Across the country, voter registration efforts targeted at Indigenous people registered thousands of people before the October deadline. Because 16% of Oklahoma’s population of 3.9 million identify as Native American, their voting power is strong and is why several tribes have come together to speak out against Stitt.

“If we all kind of flex our political power in terms of numbers, if we do our part as leaders to kind of help our citizens understand the issues and get them on the record, I think we can do a lot in the state in terms of race outcome,” Hoskin said. “They know now, regardless of the outcome, that we are going to assert as much strength as we have to raise our voices.”

Chickasaw Nation member Devon Rain, who works for the nonprofit voter advocacy group, Rock the Indigenous Votenoted that the endorsement not only boosted voter turnout, but that the race itself was important in the Indigenous community.

She told PBS NewsTime that the most common reason she first heard from Native American voters about why they registered was a desire to make a difference in this gubernatorial race.

“I heard people say they wanted someone who would respect our treaties and protect tribal sovereignty,” Rain said. “Governor. Stitt has generated a lot of interest and anger among Native voters that we’ve never seen before.

With more members of the Native community registering to vote, elections and politics in Oklahoma are set to change.

While Hofmeister has won support from the native community, Gov. Kevin Stitt’s biggest endorsement has come from law enforcement. Citing Stitt’s continued support for law enforcement, the Fraternal Order of State Police endorsed the incumbent.

“The Oklahoma Fraternal Order of Police unanimously endorses Governor Kevin Stitt as he seeks re-election. His support for law enforcement is unwavering. He has proven that protecting Oklahoma families goes a long way. above all, and we are proud to stand by his side as he makes public safety a top priority,” said Oklahoma FOP President Mark Nelson.

According Oklahomarecent polls have indicated that the voter support for Hofmeister is increasing, with Stitt’s lead is now within the single-digit margin of error.

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