- By Native News Online Staff
On Monday, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) named former Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilor Wes Nofire to serve as his new Oklahoma Native American liaison.
“Wes brings a deep familiarity with tribal governments and people across Oklahoma. His work for the Cherokee government makes him an ideal choice as we build bridges between my office and tribal governments,” Stitt said. “Throughout his career, Wes has advocated for fairness for all Oklahomans and has fought against systems that seek to treat people differently based on race or heritage. I am thrilled to have him as a member of my team as we continue to work to make Oklahoma a Top Ten state.”
Gov. Stitt’s office said Nofire has been outspoken about the McGirt decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said a significant swath of eastern Oklahoma remains American Indian land for certain legal purposes.
Even though Stitt is a Cherokee Nation citizen, the governor has fought the decision since it was announced on July 9, 2020.
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. wasted little time to express his disappointment in Stitt’s selection. Hoskin, who in June emerged victorious in a competitive four-way race for Cherokee Nation chief against Nofire, commented that Nofire's appointment has further diminished the depth of Stitt's Native American staff.
“Gov. Stitt’s selection of Wes Nofire as the state’s Native American liaison is disappointing, which is to say it comes as no surprise," Hoskin said in a statement. “We continue to hope for a day in which the depth of knowledge of Indian Country issues on Gov. Stitt’s team deepens. It’s now shallower."
"Wes Nofire’s brief time in elected office was marked by a hostility toward Cherokee tribal sovereignty, a lack of understanding broadly of the issues facing Indian Country, and his peddling of conspiracy theories about Cherokee Nation, which can only be described as unhinged.”
Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief David Hill said his tribe always welcomed a constructive dialogue with the Governor, but I don’t think his staff has been the issue.
"The Governor sets the direction for his administration, and he has made it clear that his policy is hostility towards tribes and their authority," Hill said. "It’s hard to see one staff appointment changing that. Others have tried and ended up walking away when they found themselves as pawns in the Governor's deceptive campaign.”
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