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Tribal Liaison a Boon for Oklahoma

Some Oklahoma Indians resisted working with the state government through a tribal liaison. But Jacque Hensley (l.) seems to be making a difference.

Tribal Liaison a Boon for Oklahoma

Oklahoma Indian tribes have reached agreements with the state government on a number of issues including policing, smoke-free casinos and other matters through negotiations with a special Native American liaison appointed in 2012.

Jacque Hensley, a member of the Kaw Nation, recently released a report about strides made through her office, including the establishment of the Sooner State’s first smoke-free casino. NewsOK.com reported that tribal leaders, who initially resisted dealing with the liaison, are now glad to have direct contact with an official in Governor Mary Fallin’s office.

“We appreciate the increased access to the governor’s office that the Native American liaison has facilitated,” said Judy Allen of the Durant-based Choctaw Nation.

“I think that we have made big strides in the relationship between the tribes and the state,” Hensley said. “We’ve had all of the tribal leaders and Governor Fallin and myself sit down, and we talk. I don’t think the tribal leaders have ever had that.”

The position was created after Fallin and the Republican-controlled Legislature approved a bill to abolish the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission in 2011.