Tristan Loveless, Tulsa courts reporter
Tristan Loveless holds a copy of his Oklahoma Bar Association license Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, at the Oklahoma State Capitol. (Larry Yauger)

TULSA — I grew up talking politics. Election season conversations around the dinner table were frequent and sometimes tense. But I loved it and spent my high school and college careers studying elections, political theory and law. I started following local election coverage in high school and never stopped. By college, I would always get a call from a friend on Election Day asking who was running and what each candidate supported.

After graduating from the University of Tulsa in 2018, I spent two years teaching debate in Tulsa Public Schools for the Tulsa Debate League. While teaching, I worked with dozens of students on complex topics from international arm sales to education reform. Every year, we would get a new national topic and then learn everything possible about it to build various arguments for and against the resolution. Through teaching, I fell in love with learning and education, and when the pandemic struck, I decided to return to the classroom as a student by attending the University of Tulsa College of Law.

In law school, I learned more about how laws are developed and interpreted. Professor Aila Hoss’ legislation class introduced me to the study of legislative history, an approach to law that focuses on the circumstance around a law’s passage to help determine its meaning and purpose. Professors Shawna Baker and Conor Cleary introduced me to the complex topic of federal Indian law and to the fascinating history behind it.

Lifelong Oklahoman, proud Cherokee Nation citizen

While in school, I started spending my free time researching, writing and expanding Wikipedia articles on Oklahoma history. It’s an infinitely fascinating topic with striking uniqueness. Oklahoma history extends beyond just the history of a state founded in 1907. It’s also the history of dozens of sovereign Indian nations, their leaders and their peoples. Summarized from a series of complicated events, it’s the history of Indigenous people hoping they would finally find promises upheld and the history of non-Indigenous settlers hoping to build new lives of their own.

Knowing this history remains important because it shaped the world we live in today. I am a Cherokee Nation citizen and the descendant of people forced to relocate here, but I am also the descendant of Kansas farmers who lost nearly their entire family to the Spanish flu before moving to Oklahoma.

I’m a lifelong Oklahoman who loves my state, but I am also a proud Cherokee Nation citizen. Many Oklahomans are proud of both our state and our tribal nation, and since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma, a lot of us have been thinking about how to reconcile these two feelings. In my opinion, a key first step would be for the public to have access to clear explanations of the numerous legal issues currently being hashed out in the courts.

Citizens have a right to know about their governments, how they work and what their leaders advocate on their behalf.

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Applying my background in a journalism job

I started reading NonDoc Media around 2020, and its nuanced and detailed reporting on Oklahoma politics made it one of my favorite local publications.

When I saw NonDoc’s job posting for a Tulsa-based reporter to cover court systems and local elections, I knew I had to apply. Not only did the position describe covering local topics about which I am passionate, it also seemed like the perfect opportunity to use my background in education and law.

I’ve learned how to break down complex topics teaching seventh graders about the Yemeni Civil War, and I’ve learned how to analyze statutes and legal cases at the only law school in Indian Country. Now, I am excited to learn the nuances of journalism.

I’m also looking forward to meeting new people and getting to know the state and federal courthouse communities. If anyone wants to reach out, I have created a new account on the platform formerly known as Twitter (@TLovelessOk), and you can email me at