United Indian Nations of Oklahoma hosting panels on Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s PlatePay system, McGirt v. Oklahoma, other tribal issues

UINO’s quarterly meeting takes place at Buffalo Run Casino and Hotel in Miami, Oklahoma, on June 18

MIAMI, Oklahoma (June 6, 2024) — The United Indian Nations of Oklahoma (UINO) will hold its quarterly meeting on Tuesday, June 18, 2024, at the Buffalo Run Casino and Hotel in Miami, Oklahoma. The conference will bring together leaders from UINO’s 29 member tribes, tribal citizens and non-profit and corporate entities committed to defending tribal sovereignty and advancing issues and initiatives critical to the success of Oklahoma’s tribal nations. The Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma is hosting the event.

“Oklahoma’s tribal nations continue to lead the way in showing the rest of the country what consultation and tribal relations with state and federal governments should look like,” said UINO Chairman and Shawnee Chief Ben Barnes. “I’m very proud of the members of United Indian Nations of Oklahoma for our efforts to establish dialogue with our state and federal partners. This organization should be a template for other states to follow, as well as national tribal nation organizations. It is a successful model that can be mirrored across Indian Country.”

Featured panelists include Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives Charles McCall (R-Atoka), who will discuss strengthening the relationship between the state of Oklahoma and Oklahoma’s 38 federally recognized tribes; Joe Echelle, Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) Executive Director, who will address the ongoing issues with OTA’s PlatePay system; and Muscogee Nation Attorney General Geri Wisner, who will provide update on topics related to criminal justice, taxation, energy and other issues related to expanded jurisdiction under the 2020 McGirt ruling.

National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Executive Director Larry Wright (Ponca Tribe of Nebraska) and UINO Executive Director Margo Gray (Osage) will lead a Get Out the Native Vote panel to discuss ways to mobilize tribal citizens as national and state elections heat up in 2024. Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians Tribal Chairman and current NCAI President Mark Macarro will deliver the keynote address over lunch.

“United Indian Nations of Oklahoma is the only organization bringing Oklahoma’s tribal nations, citizens, businesses and community groups together to collectively advocate for our shared concerns as Native Americans and as Oklahomans,” said UINO Executive Director Margo Gray. “Although our languages, histories, cultures and traditions are distinct and different, we share common challenges as Indian people, so it’s important that we move forward with a united voice.”

Other expert panels will cover a wide range of topics, from the state-tribal compacts, the 2024 Farm Bill, Native American boarding school legislation, and other important federal Indian policy issues. A full agenda is attached.

“What makes UINO different is that our membership is open to tribal governments as well as individual tribal citizens, Native-owned businesses, non-profits, and organizations serving Indian Country,” Gray said. “We are a unified voice, advocating for strengthening tribal sovereignty and promoting common values like caring for one another in our tribal communities.”

In addition to Executive Director Margo Gray, UINO leadership consists of:

  • Chairman – Ben Barnes (Chief, Shawnee Nation)
  • Vice Chairman – Norman Hildebrand, Jr. (Second Chief, Wyandotte Nation)
  • Treasurer – Bruce Pratt (Pawnee Nation)
  • Secretary – David Hill (Principal Chief, Muscogee Nation)

Some of UINO’s main initiatives include increasing Native American voter participation, advocating for a truthful telling of Native American histories in schools, seeking a complete reckoning of the harms caused by Native American boarding schools, strengthening penalties against artists who sell art falsely labeled at “Native American art,” and advocating against federal recognition of state recognized groups self-identifying as tribes.

For information on membership with UINO, visit https://www.uinoklahoma.com/