Delaware Tribe sets vote in independence effort
BY CLIFTON ADCOCK World Staff Writer
Sunday, April 12, 2009
4/12/09 at 3:32 AM
BARTLESVILLE — Members of the Delaware Tribe are to vote on a constitution that would put the tribe on the cusp of regaining its federal recognition.
Although the Bartlesville-based tribe has been associated with the Cherokee Nation for years, it gained federal recognition in the 1990s, only to lose it again in 2004 under a federal court decision. The tribe is a separate entity from the federally recognized Delaware Nation, which has its headquarters in Anadarko.
The election, which is being conducted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, is set for May 26, but all tribal members who are registered to vote will receive a ballot. It is important for all who receive a ballot to vote, because ballots not returned will count as a "no" vote, the tribe's spokesman Ernest Tiger said.
Tribe members who want to vote in the election must register by April 21, Tiger said.
The Delawares had been in a dispute with the Cherokee Nation over their attempts to break away, and only in October did both of the tribes' councils agree to the split, he said.
With the loss of its federal recognition, the tribe went from about 100 employees to five and had to sell its former headquarters, Tiger said.
Federal recognition will help the tribe regain federal funds and jump-start economic development projects that were shelved, he said.
"We had to scale back and work to this point," he said. "This is a momentous occasion for the tribe. We have our economic development projects on hold until after we get federal recognition, at which time we'll become very active in advancing the tribe through economic development projects."
The Delaware Tribe, headed by Chief Jerry Douglas, has about 10,800 members.
Oklahoma now has 37 federally recognized tribes.
Clifton Adcock 581-8462