US Rep. Tom Cole, Chickasaw, eyes 10th term

Election 2020

‘I have a reputation of working in a bipartisan manner, which I think makes a difference’ #NativeVote20

Dalton Walker
Indian Country Today

For nine straight general elections, Republican and Chickasaw Nation citizen Tom Cole has been the face of Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District.

Come Nov. 3, he is a favorite to win yet another term as a U.S. Representative after first being elected in 2002.

Cole is the senior Native member of Congress, co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus and the top Republican on the key House Rules Committee.

“I position myself to be effective on a variety of issues, and I have a reputation of working in a bipartisan manner, which I think makes a difference,” Cole told Indian Country Today. “Native issues is a good example that I think most Native American issues really aren’t Republican versus Democrat. It really gets down to whether you understand the trust obligation of the federal government and the importance of tribal sovereignty.”

Cole is one of two Natives serving in one of Oklahoma’s five congressional districts. Republican Markwayne Mullin, Cherokee, serves the second and is also seeking reelection. Mullin is up against another Cherokee citizen, Democrat Danyell Lanier.

The 4th District covers south-central Oklahoma and is on the southern edge of Oklahoma City. It includes the Chickasaw Nation. Democrat Mary Brannon and Libertarian Bob White are also on the general election ballot.

The deadline to register to vote in Oklahoma has passed, and the last day to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 27. Early in-person voting is from Oct. 29 to Oct. 31 and is available only in the county in which potential voters have registered.

Cole, who has been endorsed by President Donald Trump, said he’s been “lucky and blessed” to win nine straight times. “I had a very competitive first election; the ones since then I've been able to win with relative ease,” Cole said.

Cole’s district has a heavy military influence, including Tinker Air Force Base. One of Cole’s focuses in Congress has been on defense issues. He said he’s helped add additional jobs and infrastructure spending to his district related to the military. Cole is senior member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

Cole praised the work of the Native American caucus, especially co-chair Deb Haaland, Laguna Pueblo, a New Mexico Democrat. Both had a role in helping tribes and Native organizations secure around $8 billion as part of the monumental Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

“We were able to get in the big CARES package, the largest transfer of dollars from the federal government to tribal governments in American history,” Cole said.

Cole is in favor of another package that would also benefit tribes and wants tribal governments to have more flexibility in spending and in deadline spending. The CARES Act has tight restrictions on spending and gives tribes through the end of the calendar year to spend their money.

Cole said he’s been “pretty frustrated” Congress hasn’t come to a solution on a second package, or hasn’t at least approved individual items that both parties agree on.

“If we do get another package, we need to make sure that tribes remain at the table,” Cole said.

Cole said he opposes the Democratic-led Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions, or HEROES Act. It’s unclear if Congress will come to an agreement on a new package before Election Day.

He also supports Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.

(Related: Tom Cole: 'We should have been better prepared')

Following the recent landmark McGirt v. Oklahoma U.S. Supreme Court decision, which reaffirmed that a large portion of eastern Oklahoma remains a reservation, members of the state’s congressional delegation said they stand ready to work with tribal and state officials to ensure “stability and consistency in applying law that brings all criminals to justice.”

Cole noted Oklahoma and tribes in the state have a good history of working together in recent years.

"Indeed, before this decision came down our Attorney General Mike Hunter and various representatives of the five tribes had already been meeting and working toward a common statement of principles and to work out any jurisdictional disagreements or disputes," Cole said in a video message the day after the ruling.

Earlier this month, Cole praised the presidential signing of Savanna’s Act and Not Invisible Act that helps address the missing and murdered Indigenous women crisis. Cole co-sponsored the Not Invisible Act as part of the Native American caucus.

“These critical pieces of legislation will indeed be momentous in combating the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous persons,” he said.

The signing came a few days before Indigenous Peoples Day on Oct. 13. Cole said he supports a day dedicated to Native people beyond November’s Native American Heritage Month and has supported legislation. However, Cole said he’s not in favor of eliminating Columbus Day.

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Dalton Walker, Red Lake Anishinaabe, is a national correspondent at Indian Country Today. Follow him on Twitter: @daltonwalker Walker is based in Phoenix and enjoys Arizona winters.

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Comments (1)
No. 1-1
Ms. Yasha
Ms. Yasha
  1. I have one major answer to the American Education Problems...and the solution is found among the Native American people, but it was lost during the 1920- Assimilation-era, and the Trail of Tears...I discovered it in Oct 2018, since then I have developed it completely, created curriculum and workbooks, that I have tested in public and private schools. including LD students! It has been received by all of the children 100-percent! I have designed toys, games, wrote movies ...backed up with Native American's untold history...I've studied this matter so much, that I've even found a description of the Native American people in the Bible!
  2. This discovery is so profound, I've had it copyright...but I'm willing to sell it for 20-million dollars, as this market is new...and it's what the country desperately needs...and it's pure Oklahoman! By it being copyright, it won't get lost again... and Oklahoma history will be told all across America. I've done my research since October 2018, and have helped to bring out the genius of my 9-grandchildren...but I want other children to success too! I guarantee that this Native American way will be used by the nation and then the world... not even Japan, China and the other highly educated countries have this information. It's not on the internet... again, I've done my homework...I looked and looked and it's no where.
  3. I've read the book that a group of Native American wrote for Oklahoman-children to study and, I think it's titled "Trail of "something"...trying to change from using the word's seemed more like a "photo op", of pages and pages of proud people...the contents were on crafts with bead and other easily discarded items...that we can do without...but nothing as important as "how the Native Americans educated their children". What I have is amazing and it will correct a lot of wrongs put out in society through the years...mainly in old western movies...and it's undeniable where this knowledge came from. Wouldn't you like to know how Native American children were educated? Let's help those Native American mothers (ancestors) to teach the nation! Today! We desperately need it!!
  4. In my studies, I learned how various things that the tribes did, were divided out among the tribes, basically each tribe was allowed to pick one thing and be the only ones to make that one thing, so the tribe could earn money to survive...I thought "how awful"...but with my discovery, it will bring the tribes back together, as I believe all of the tribes used this's undeniable!
  5. Here is another point, Oklahoma paid Canada 250-thousand dollars to create a logo for our state...and it's a great logo...but you have no idea how great that logo is...I've adjusted the logo just a little to fit with this new educational discovery... You would hardly notice the change...But what does this mean? It means that Oklahoma's logo will be recognized by every child in our nation! They will place Oklahoma's logo in their homes, not because of it's beauty but because of it's value! Now let's "Imagine That!" Can you imagine Oklahoma taking the lead on teaching the nation? During this COVID-19 time? Right in their own homes??
    SIDENOTE: (FYI, my daughter and granddaughter are daughter was Teacher of the Year one year...and one of my granddaughters is in training now to become a teacher. I've been a substitute teacher for nearly 10-years...I'm a retired military I'm an okay person.)
  6. And the timing is perfect, it's exactly 100 years to the year, that this nation forced the Native American into Assimilation! It's time to vindicate them! Plus the schools in our whole nation is failing the children and this IS the answer AND it comes from the Native Americans!
  7. I've address letters to several business, (some sent and some not sent)...but I know that I must sound like a crazy person...everyone seems to think there are no new discoveries...and the passion I have for this is so strong...because it is works...the children love it! They hug me, because they appreciate having their brains exercised. Aren't we tired of having our children at the low end of the national education scale?
  8. What do I want? An opportunity to present this to someone in a decision making position, like the Governor, a top leader in the Representative Tom Cole...perhaps with a business like McDonalds, Hasbro, Mattel's, Disney represented...I've already redesigned one of McDonald's vintage toys...wrote a Disney style movie or it could be about a Native American hero? This thing keeps speaking for itself!
  9. And I could even say that it's from God, because it's absolute! Its only has one-way! That's why I need to present it to the top people at the onset, once it's told, everyone and anyone can benefit from it....again, it only needs to be taught once... then increase. It was so profound, I talked to God...I questioned a lot of things in the lead me to geniuses, it disproved some that we think were geniuses... and get this, it's all from Oklahoma. If you love our state, you will contact me.
  10. Here is what I need to present this discovery to you...Top officials, business people and a group of students, I prefer 1st, 2nd, and/or 3rd graders...a microphone, so I can address the students, and camera(s) right on their little you can see the pure joy of learning first's a sight to see! Older children are already ruined by the system and though they like this...they will revert back, it's a sad sight to watch and we can't blame the teachers, they can't teach what they don't know. And they don't know because it not out there.
  11. Thank you for your time...please let's get started on this, and commemorate the Native American, by reviving their educational system, during this November, 100-years after they were forced to give up their ways...of learning and teaching. Basically, forced to dummy-down.
    Thank you for your time.