Cherokee Nation leaders applauded Gov. Kevin Stitt’s signing of Oklahoma Senate Bill 111 that designates the second Monday in October as Oklahoma Native American Day.
The legislation was authored by Rep. Collin Walke and Sen. Michael Bergstrom. Oklahoma is home to 38 federally recognized Native tribes with Native people making up about 10 percent of Oklahoma’s total population.
“The Cherokee Nation is thankful for the state legislature and Governor Kevin Stitt recognizing the integral role Native people play in the history, economy and future of our state and country,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “The second Monday of October will be a day for people across the state to celebrate and honor the significant contributions of Native tribes as well as the beautiful culture of our Native people.”
The Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes, representing more than 750,000 tribal citizens, passed a resolution in January supporting legislation signed by Gov. Stitt.
The Cherokee Nation declared Indigenous Peoples Day as an official holiday within the tribe. It is also recognized on the second Monday of October each year. The tribe also endorsed other cities’ adoption of Native Peoples or Indigenous Peoples Day, such as Tulsa and Los Angeles.
Similar legislation, authored by Cherokee Nation citizens and former state legislators Chuck Hoskin and John Sparks, passed both the House and Senate last session with large majorities, but was subsequently vetoed by former Gov. Mary Fallin.
“I was disappointed this did not come to fruition during my time in the state legislature, but I am equally happy to see Gov. Stitt designate the second Monday of October as Oklahoma Native American Day,” said Cherokee Nation Chief of Staff and former Oklahoma Rep. Chuck Hoskin. “Oklahoma is the heart of Indian Country and it is important that we as a state honor the culture, heritage and history of Indian people. This is an opportunity for Native people across Oklahoma to unify on this day.”