MEET THE CANDIDATES: OFFICE OF THE CHIEF

BEN BARNES (Incumbent)

HOMETOWN: MIAMI, OK 

CURRENT CITY: MIAMI, OK

OCCUPATION: CHIEF OF THE SHAWNEE TRIBE

For over 25 years, I have served in leadership roles in Indian Country, professionally at director-level positions in Tribal Gaming. Since 2008, it has been a true honor and privilege to work for my own community, working to bring a better future to all Shawnee People, wherever we might live. Like many of you, my children grew older and as they began having children, I wondered if my experience in business and learning from other Tribal Nations could be put to use for Shawnee People. I am the eldest of six children yet we lost our folks when we were too young, but I have always found that we had a special place inside of our Shawnee community. Our father gave us a fine example of the adults we should become, principled in our dealings, considerate of others, and to serve Shawnee people with a spirit of a “boceli,” the one who helps.

These past years, we have accomplished much despite a pandemic and having to sue the U.S. Treasury. As we continue to build sustainable programs for our families, elders, and children, we will also be building the wealth of the tribe while nurturing our youth.

Councilman Hood is running unopposed. His name will not appear on the September 17 ballot, and he will be confirmed during the General Council meeting that afternoon.

If re-elected, what personal qualities will you bring to the Office of the Chief?

Leadership. Measured, reasoned leadership. As part of the Business Council, I get excited about the opportunity to lead initiatives which have helped families. Councilperson McLean’s advocacy for school clothing is one example, while Roy and myself launched our family court and Indian Child Welfare Office. These programs have directly impacted households and saved families by keeping them together and out of state foster care systems. Stewardship. This administration launched many processes and policies to ensure we will be good stewards of the Tribe’s assets. We have increased our land and real estate holdings while creating policy to protect the assets from bad actors. Examples of this include “tone at the top” audits and multi-signatory payment requirements while authoring and launching policy/procedures for the entire organization. This Business Council has been supportive of these efforts as well as the third-parties we have brought to assist our financial efforts. The Shawnee Tribe can be proud of our financial security, resting safe knowing that we passed legislation, the “Revenue Allocation Plan” which prevents the government from bloat or overspending. Finally, Community. Since the launch of the Shawnee Language platform, people are gathering together and coming home. It is our language that bind us together.

What issues affecting Shawnee citizens would you intend to prioritize most?

Early in this administration, we surveyed our citizens to discover what were the areas that concerned Shawnee citizens the most. To no one’s surprise, it was Education, Employment, and Health. However, to everyone’s surprise, a pandemic descended on the entire world and up-ended many things, including the priorities. I cannot say that things have returned to normal as the labor market has changed. We recognize that we have to not only get our children ready by supporting their educational efforts but also our adult learners and breadwinners. Health is still a concern for many as the costs for any treatments have only increased since we completed the survey. I anticipate the tribal nation will be supporting our elderly with assistance for their care while we also build up services within the nation as well as our partners, such as Northeastern Tribal Health Systems in Miami, OK. I should also mention that we need to build up our youth and give them an opportunity to feel part of the community. I believe in programs like 4-H, FFA, and other civic organizations, but none of those teach our youth about tribal sovereignty so we will be launching our own Shawnee Youth Council.

If a citizen has further questions for you, what is the best way for them to contact you?

My email is chief@shawnee-tribe.com but I am also easy to reach across all social media platforms. I will readily give my cell number out to citizens as some issues are delicate and people need privacy. We also have the main phone line system where all Shawnee staff and offices can be reached. That number is 918-542-2441. I should also announce that our media department will soon be launching a new website for the Tribe. Contacting Business Council persons will become extremely easy on the new website.


CYNTHIA GREENFEATHER

HOMETOWN: BRISTOW, OK

CURRENT CITY: BRISTOW, OK

OCCUPATION: EMPLOYED CLAREMORE INDIAN HOSPITAL

I am a 53-year-old, professional, female citizen of the Shawnee Tribe. I live near Bristow, Oklahoma on a 60-acre farm, with my wonderful spouse Timothy. We have 5 children, 8 grandsons, and 2 granddaughters on the way. My family and Shawnee heritage serve as the foundation for the person I am today. My father taught me to respect everyone and help those in need through humility and service. “Honoring” our elders with the dignity they deserve, so we may preserve our culture, and proud native American history for future generations to come. Family, Faith, and Love, serve as my cornerstones of strength. My peace is found “listening” to the elders speak of things from their past that bring them joy. I enjoy sharing “Time-out” at the lake with my family and “personal” time at home working on the farm.

To reinstate the Voice of citizens within the Shawnee Tribe and provide a “Transparent” and “Open” government that benefits all of the Shawnee citizens in a professional, fair, and honest manner. So that all Shawnee Tribe members prosper in our sovereignty.

If elected, what personal qualities will you bring to the Office of the Chief?

Honesty, fairness, transparency, dignity, integrity, work ethic and an open mind are qualities I will bring to the B.C. and the “Office of the Chief.” I have extensive experience with government contracts, large budgets, and employee development. My Shawnee heritage is important to me, and I will value the cultural heritage, language, and the pursuit of expanding our tribal traditions and history so that we may maintain our identity in the modern world. I will encourage free speech, open dialogue, and pursue agendas that benefit all citizens.

What issues affecting Shawnee citizens would you intend to prioritize most?

Term limits for all government offices and seats, including Chief & 2nd Chief. Open video recording and links to such for all open meetings, open posting of B.C. Meeting minutes. Renewed importance of 1st & 2nd “readings” for potential Business Council legislation with the appropriate 30-day postings for citizen dialogue. I WILL SEEK REPEAL OF ALL 2022/2023 “OFFICE OF THE CHIEF” LEGISLATION IN REGARD TO: THE ELECTION ACT, THE ETHICS ACT, & THE RECORDS ACT. I will seek to ensure that the Economic Development Committee be placed under the umbrella of the Business Council in no uncertain manner. I will seek all methods of economic development that provide strength for our nation, jobs for its citizens, and potential growth for our nation beyond gaming solutions. Priority will be given to cultural knowledge from our elders, I will seek an open debate and discussion involving the Shawnee Mission Labor School debate that includes all tribes and people involved. I will pursue and advocate for elder assistance programs, tribal job opportunities, citizen business start-up programs, and citizen low-income housing assistance. There will be a concerted effort to provide our youth with additional secondary education assistance and College or Vocational grants.

If a citizen has further questions for you, what is the best way for them to contact you?

Please feel free to contact me anytime 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday thru Friday by phone at 316-734-0184. OR by email at: cpayne316@yahoo.com

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