Byline: Morgan Taylor/Multimedia Producer
OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma –An official endorsement of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister as Oklahoma’s next Governor was announced from the Five Tribe’s of OK in a press conference held at the Petroleum Club Event Center (Formerly Jim Thorpe Event Center) on Oct. 11.
Each Chief took a moment to speak on behalf of the tribe they represent regarding the support of Hofmeister.
Tribal leaders cite her respect for tribal sovereignty and commitment to work with the federally recognized tribes of the state for the betterment of all Oklahomans, as stated in press release from the Intertribal Committee.
MCN Principal Chief David Hill said that he could see Hofmeister’s heart is different than that of the current administrations’ leader.
Hill said during his attendance of the State of the State from Gov. Kevin Stitt, tribes were not mentioned a single time. Considering the latest study from the Oklahoma Tribal Finance Consortium stating the tribes’ impact on the state being over $15 billion, Hofmeister understands the inclusion of tribes to the state is more than beneficial to all Oklahomans.
Hill claimed he asked Hofmeister what her first 60-90 days in office would look like if she were to be voted in.
“One of the priorities that she mentioned was to sit down with all tribal nations,” he said. “That’s what we need, people who will sit down at the table, and that table is round and she sits with other tribal leaders.”
During her yearlong campaign, her stance on the matter has not changed or shifted.
“I believe by working together we achieve more, by respecting one another, by coming to the table (a round table), with an honest willingness to partner we can move forward to find what is best for our state,” Hofmeister sad.
She believes the contribution of tribes has allowed the state major improvements in many sectors.
“I believe that Oklahoma’s future depends on mutually beneficial partnerships between sovereign tribal governments.”
Tribes have a rich history, creativity, business success, and community investment roles in large and small communities throughout the state giving OK a competitive advantage.
“As governor I will embrace that bond, not break it.”
The Five Tribes include the Muscogee, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole Nations that make up over 800,000 enrolled tribal members living around the country.
The release included a statement from the leaders:
“Joy Hofmeister recognizes that we all want the same things: safe communities, a strong economy, a stable workforce, well-funded education, investments in our infrastructure, and a continued focus on health and wellness, family, and community.
When it comes to working with the tribal nations in Oklahoma, she understands our sovereignty is not a partisan issue or a threat, but instead is a chance to forge new partnerships while strengthening those that already exist because 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 leaders of the Five Tribes are endorsing Joy Hofmeister to be Oklahoma’s 29th Governor,” the Five Tribes leaders said.
Rock the Native Vote, the MCN Election Board along with other tribal election organizations worked diligently to get citizens registered to vote in state elections in addition to tribal elections during the first of the year.
Lady Legend’s member Barbara O’Neil works with Rock the Native Vote with the hope of educating tribal members and increasing the voting numbers of Native Americans. She and other organization members traveled across the state to tribal nations at every opportunity possible to help increase that number.
Before voting, O’Neil recommends taking the time to review candidates including tribal affiliation, supporting organizations and memberships, and also researching what bills the candidate supports.
According to O’Neil, there are two questions to ask about each candidate, “What can they offer us and what can they do to help us as Muscogee (Creek)’s,” she said.
She said the state’s current administration is a prime example of why Indigenous Voices need to make be heard.
“Our ancestors couldn’t vote,” O’Neil said. “We need to be voting for us now and our future.”
According to MCN Election Board Manager Nelson Harjo Jr., citizens can find updated information about the upcoming state election and where to vote on their social media pages.
“Every election is important and that’s why we encourage citizens to vote each time there is one,” he said.
The states gubernatorial election will take place on Nov. 8.