Oklahoma Lawmaker: Native Americans “At the Rim of an Alcohol Bottle … Cannot Process Like Other People”

Oklahoma lawmaker, Todd Russ, shared his thoughts about Native Americans on House floor on Thursday.

Oklahoma lawmaker, Todd Russ, shared his thoughts about Native Americans on House floor on Thursday.

Published April 23, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY—Oklahoma State Representative Todd Russ (Republican) showed his true thoughts about Native Americans on Thursday during what turned into contentious debate to place a measure on the ballot in November to allow beer and wine to be sold in grocery and convenience stores in the state.

During an attempt to tell the Native American Caucus to oppose the legislation, Russ said:

“I have got to wonder what rock you’ve been under. The white man, the white man took advantage and just took advantage of the Native American people for hundreds of years at the rim of an alcohol bottle,” Russ said, “They cannot process that like other people and yet we want to put that, more of that out for them to just be taken advantage of.”
Oklahoma State Capitol

Oklahoma State Capitol

Representative Dan Kirby, a tribal citizen of the Creek Nation and a lawmaker representing Tulsa, took exception of his fellow lawmaker’s portrayal of Native Americans.

On Friday, the Cherokee Nation, based in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, Director of Communication Amanda Clinton released the following statement:

“Representative Russ’ ill-conceived comments on the House floor are troubling and serve only to reinforce outdated stereotypes about Native Americans. It’s particularly disappointing, as Rep. Russ’ constituency includes a large portion of the Cheyenne Arapaho Nation. We hope he carefully reconsiders his views and begins to recognize tribal nations and tribal people for what we are — a modern, thriving and essential part of Oklahoma’s economy and culture.”

Even with the contentious debate, the bill passed the state house by a 61-30 vote and moves to a conference committee for more consideration.






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