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Think tank backs Cabinet post for tribal relations

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (AP)1-08

A think tank’s suggestion that Oklahoma governors should appoint a Cabinet secretary to oversee collaborations with American Indian tribes in the state has been discussed as a possibility, State Treasurer Scott Meacham said.

The nonpartisan Oklahoma Academy included the idea as part of the legislative agenda it released mid January, which also suggested adding tribal liaisons in several state agencies.

Meacham said officials have discussed creating an Office of Tribal Relations that would fall under the governor. However, he said state law allows the governor to have only 15 Cabinet secretaries and all of those posts are already filled. To add a secretary for tribal affairs, another Cabinet post would have to be eliminated or lawmakers would have to change state law.

Meacham said the move would could be advantageous because the Cabinet secretary would have the power of the state’s chief executive behind the office.

The treasurer also pointed out that most Cabinet secretaries are the heads of state agencies, which pay for the posts. Any new tribal liaisons would also have to have their jobs funded, Meacham said.

The Oklahoma Academy also called for an additional $45 million in state funding for the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum being built in Oklahoma City. Meacham said a bond issue might be a better way to fund the center, which has already received $40 million in bond money from the state.

 

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