BARTLESVILLE, Okla. – Oklahoma is once again the home of 38 federally recognized Indian tribes. The Bartlesville, Okla. based Delaware Tribe of Indians received official United States Department of Interior notification July 28 that the tribe’s status as a federally recognized tribe was restored.
“The official memo to the regional director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Eastern Oklahoma Area Office states, in part, that a direct federal relationship with the Delaware Tribe is restored and that our tribe will be included in the next list of recognized tribal entities published in the Federal Register,” said Tribal Chief Jerry Douglas.
In 2004, a 10th Circuit Court ruling in favor of the Cherokee Nation resulted in the removal of the Delaware from the list of federally recognized tribes. Since the court decision the Delaware and the Cherokee entered into an agreement resolving jurisdictional and other issues.
After the two tribes negotiated and signed an agreement the Delaware Tribe voted to reorganize under the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act. An election to approve the tribe’s constitution and bylaws was administered by the BIA. On May 26, Delaware tribal voters overwhelmingly voted to approve the constitution and bylaws, with 1,136 voting to approve and 19 opposition votes.
“Now that it’s official, we have got some serious heavy lifting to do,” Douglas said. “Regaining our federal recognition is the key component to nation building for an Indian tribe such as ours. We are the largest landless tribe in the United States and our economic development program and endeavors have been on hold since 2004. We are now about to enter an exciting period in the growth and development of our tribe.”
The chief believes the best is yet to come for the Delaware and is looking forward to seeing his tribe grow and prosper.