Needless Death of Young Native American Largely Ignored

Last month Oklahoma State hosted a BBC World Service for a panel discussion to dig deeper into how much and why things are changing for Native Americans in Oklahoma. According to the BBC, because native Oklahoma tribes have exercised their tribal sovereignty, these tribes have become “economic powerhouses” and contribute a large amount to the state’s economy. 

The following individuals were a part of the five panel discussion: 

  • Elizabeth Payne, the director of the OSU Center for Sovereign Nations
  • Neal McCaleb, the Ambassador at Large for Chicksaw Nation
  • Sarah Adams-Cornell, supporter for Native American culture, education and rights (also a board member of Not Your Mascots and a member of the Idle No More Central Oklahoma)
  • Allison Herrera, co-creator of Invisible Nations
  • Taiawagi Helton, a professor of law at the University of Oklahoma 

The panel was led by Owen Bennett Jones, an award-winning broadcaster for the BBC. 

It was an honor for our state to host the event, and it was surprising to many in our country that Oklahoma is apparently “setting the example” for how Native American tribes should be run. But is Oklahoma really much different from the rest of America?

Avoidable Deaths in Custer County Ignored 

Unlike the unarmed shooting of teenager Michael Brown in August 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, there has not been a call for change or any commentary about the often deadly force inflicted on Native Americans. 

As an example, in 2012, one young Native American man was having a paranoid episode and entered the Clinton Police Department wielding a wrench to protect himself. The young man believed he was being followed. An officer then fired a shot, striking him in the mouth and killing him.

A Long Uphill Battle

The international stage may have just witnessed information that shows that the Native Americans living in Oklahoma are setting the pace for other Native communities not only throughout the United States, but the entire world. But statistics suggest that the Native Americans of Oklahoma face the same disparity, maltreatment, and legal issues as many aboriginal tribes throughout the world.

At the Rick Dane Moore & Associates Law Firm, P.L.L.C., we specialize in Native American issues and have secured many positive outcomes for our clients. You can speak with one of our knowledgeable attorneys today by calling us (405) 366-0373.