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tribal nations in Oklahoma
Oklahoma is home to 39 federally recognized Tribal Nations. (Screenshot from bia.gov)

One of Oklahoma’s most distinctive features is that 39 federally recognized tribal nations call it home. They range from the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma, which has only a few hundred enrolled citizens, to the Cherokee Nation, which, with more than 380,000 citizens, is the largest tribe in the United States.

With almost 14 percent of Oklahomans reporting a tribal affiliation, according to census data, the state has the country’s second highest native population relative to its size, exceeded only by Alaska.

So to get your head around Oklahoma’s politics and economy, or to understand where Oklahomans go for health care, education and other services, it helps to understand the workings of the tribes. This is particularly true now, as the Supreme Court’s ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma has opened up the possibility of profound changes to the relationship between the state and at least five of those tribal nations.

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Oklahoma tribal resources page

When trying to keep up with tribal developments, however, it can be hard to know where to start, as each nation has not only its own culture, history and present-day challenges but also its own governmental structures, enrollment rules, business enterprises and social services.

In an attempt to make this information a little more accessible to our readers, we are excited to launch our new Tribal Resources Page, which is designed to serve as an easy-to-use reference guide to the tribal nations of Oklahoma.

For each tribe, you will find a tab containing basic information on how its government is set up, the names of top leaders, contact information and the date of the next tribal election.

Please note that we are launching simply the first incarnation of this page, and we hope to keep expanding and enriching it in the future. If there is something you’d particularly like to see added, feel free to email and let us know.

More info on tribal nations, other governments in Oklahoma

Another good resource, if you’re looking to learn more about a particular tribe, is the Native American Journalists Association’s Tribal Nations Media Guide, which provides a useful outline of information to seek out in order to get a full picture of the tribe you’re researching.

The Oklahoma Historical Society’s website also has short entries on the history of each tribal nation on the general history of Native Americans in Oklahoma.

And finally, don’t forget to visit NonDoc’s Legislative History Page for highlights of the past few sessions of the Oklahoma Legislature, and bookmark our public resource pages for easy access to local government entities.

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