Nancy Marie Spears
Cheyenne and Arapaho Gov. Reggie Wassana and Lt. Gov. Gib Miles won the Nov. 2 general election by a landslide, the first time the tribe has reelected its governor.
The Wassana and Miles team received about 72 percent of the vote, while their opponents -- Wilma Blackbear and Roberta Hamilton, received 28 percent of the 1,887 votes cast.
"Gib Miles and I would like to sincerely thank the Cheyenne and Arapaho people locally, and nationwide, who voted to support our vision for the next four years," Reggie Wassana told Gaylord News. "In our first term, we overhauled our tribal government with a spirit of complete transparency, we expanded and reached new heights of prosperity, and we diversified the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal holdings to capitalize on future economic opportunities; all for our people."
Wassana grew up north of Weatherford in the Deer Creek Indian Community and graduated from Weatherford High School in 1986.
He attended Southwestern Oklahoma State University before transferring to the University of Oklahoma, then returning to Southwestern State to obtain a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
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In 1992, Wassana began working for Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes as a planner before moving to the business managers office. He was hired in 1996 to be the executive director of housing, where he served until 2011.
Wassana later held a number of other roles at the tribe, including casino manager, serving on the economic development and tribal farm and ranch boards, and serving on the Southwest Oklahoma Development Authority Youth Council.
He was elected legislator in 2016 for Cheyenne District 3 and served as speaker of the legislature for two years. He was then elected the tribe’s fourth governor and is now set to serve a second term for the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes.
"All tribal members will continue to see the tribes grow and gain credibility we lost," Wassana said. "Tribal members will have the opportunity to prosper from the resounding success which we directly attribute to the stability of our government. As the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes grow, rest assured, our dedication to our tribal citizens will never waver. We are grateful for their faith, trust, and confidence in us and we are excited and optimistic about the next four years."
Before constitutional amendments were made in 2006, the tribe was overseen by a business committee, not a governor.
Three district legislator incumbents saw victories in their runoffs, each also poised for another four-year term.
Kendricks Sleeper (Arapaho District 2) won with 57.55 percent of votes while opponent Juaquin Lonelodg, received 42.45 percent.
George Woods (Cheyenne District 2) won with 54.04 percent while opponent Frances White Thunder received 45.96 percent of votes.
Byron Byrd (Cheyenne District 4) won with 56.38 percent of votes while opponent Delfred White Crow received 43.62 percent.
Diane Willisa, a newcomer was elected Arapaho District 1 legislator after winning with 53.59 percent, over opponent Debra Woolworth, who received 46.41 percent of votes. Willis was a newcomer to the general election.
Nancy Marie Spears, a Gaylord News reporter based in Washington, is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. For more stories from Gaylord News visit GaylordNews.net.