Tribal Leaders Gather For First-Ever 'State Of The Nation' With Tulsa Chamber Of Commerce

The first-of-its-kind gathering for the chamber was a recognition of tribal industry and influence.

Thursday, April 18th 2024, 5:29 pm



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More than 800 people got an update on the status of Tulsa area tribal nations on Thursday.

It was the first-ever "State of the Nation" gathering for the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber wanted to hear directly from the tribes, and the tribes said they just want to be heard. On Thursday, they were.

The typical Chamber of Commerce gathering doesn't include a drum circle, but this one did, well before a native choir sang, in a room filled with Tulsa's businesses and political leaders.

The first-of-its-kind gathering for the chamber was a recognition of tribal industry and influence.

"Look at the impact they all have on the economy of Northeast Oklahoma. It's magnificent, it's huge," said Mike Neal with the Tulsa Chamber.

"We're at the table in terms of charting the future economically for this state," said Cherokee Nation Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.

While the Muscogee Chief had a conflict and couldn't attend, the Cherokee and Osage Chiefs spoke of their growing business sides, well beyond gaming.

"What we're trying to do now is look at new areas, food sustainability is number 1 on the list," said Osage Nation Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear.

The tribes explained their film work, their government contracting and expanding healthcare systems, and Hoskin said he was grateful for the chance.

"They operate from a basis of respect, and a curiosity about what we do and what we can do together, and I think this reflects where we are in the state and that's a good thing," Chief Hoskin Jr. said.

The Chamber said this would become a yearly event, with Chiefs getting the same time in the spotlight as the Mayor and Governor.

Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear talked of a new awareness that tribes deserve respect.

"We are still here. We are proud. We are culturally relevant and good neighbors, but we have our own customs and habits and we're going to keep those," Chief Standing Bear said.

Every seat was ticketed and every ticket was sold a for room of 850 to hear the Chiefs speak.

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