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Gov. Kevin Stitt
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Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is an enigma. A successful businessman who began the Oklahoma-based mortgage company Gateway, he was elected governor in 2018. Stitt is an enrolled tribal citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

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Guest Opinion. In 2015, Cherokee Nation and the state of Oklahoma signed a historic compact on hunting and fishing licenses. For years, that agreement has been a win-win for Cherokee Nation citizens and for all Oklahomans. Cherokees living in Oklahoma received a license to hunt and fish across the state, and $32 million in new federal dollars went to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

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Guest Opinion For everyone following the Native American gaming industry, it has been impossible to ignore the fast and furious rise of mobile sports betting in recent years. Ads for new mobile sports betting apps are seemingly featured during every televised sporting event, on every sports-related video online, and across all social media platforms. In addition, states across the country are increasingly viewing mobile sports betting as a way to generate public revenues, with more than two dozen states having now legalized it. And yet, amidst all of this excitement, Indian Nations may sadly be left behind without changes to outdated federal policy.

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In the early years of the Spanish occupation of the Americas, it was no secret that Spanish clergy distrusted the sincerity of Native people’s conversions to Catholicism. After all, their devotion to the Christian God had been imposed through violence against long-standing Native religious traditions. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Mexican devotion to the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe had its roots in the more ancient worship of Tonantzin Coatlicue (Our Mother Serpent Skirt), mother of gods and mortals, giver and taker of life. In Aztec lore, she symbolizes the earth’s power to both create and destroy. 

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Guest Opinion. On a truly historic afternoon in early December, we hosted First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland on the Cherokee Nation Reservation to review our unique language development programs. We were honored to have this recognition from the highest levels of the U.S. government for our efforts to preserve and grow the Cherokee language.

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Opinion. Tucked between the fourth and the fifth holes on the fairway of the Hiawatha Golf Course in Canton, South Dakota, lies a fenced-in Indian cemetery. There are no markers for the 126 known graves found there. The course’s golfers would probably never suspect why the area is fenced off unless they entered it and read a placard facing opposite the fairway listing the names of – not all but some – of 121 Native people buried there. The known names. 

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Guest Opinion - HEALTH. One of the many consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic is that many preventive health care visits, including recommended cancer screenings, have been skipped or postponed. The data related to the impact of this pandemic on breast cancer screening is sobering – in early 2020, there was an 85 percent decline in breast cancer screening rates, and the challenges continue.

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Guest Opinion. Recently, I joined students, teachers and school leaders at Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa to raise the Cherokee Nation flag over the campus for the first time. Going forward, it will fly every day next to the Oklahoma and American flags. It joins flags of the Osage Nation and Muscogee Nation that were raised at Tulsa Public School locations on the reservations of those tribes.

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Recently, a European scientist used a small strand of DNA extracted from Sitting Bull’s scalp lock to confirm the relationship between Sitting Bull and his modern relatives. On an individual level, there is compassion for the family and their generational hardships. On a tribal level, there needs to be concern for a dangerous precedent that threatens sovereign control: The data mining of Native American DNA and the genetic material and microbes found in our people, plants and water.

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Opinion. Five years ago, the first weekend of December, I was at Standing Rock covering the resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline for Native News Online. Bolstered by some 2,000 veterans who arrived to show support, the crowd swelled to an estimated 10,000 over the weekend.