from The Chiefs

Chief Barnes
Ben Barnes

Nov. 2, 2022

hato saawanooki (Hello Shawnee citizens)

In this newsletter, I want to showcase a few of the successes at the tribal nation, efforts that Roy, myself and the rest of the Business Council are proud to share—successes directly impacting Shawnee people today, with plans to continue well into the next generation.

At a recent meeting, Joshua Shawnee, the tribe’s Higher Education & Social Services Director, informed us that his department had awarded half a million dollars in scholarships. His announcement reminded Second Chief Baldridge and me how proud and excited we were when we delivered a mere eighty-three thousand to our students. Our Shawnee citizens have embraced this program, and the response has been remarkable.

I am looking forward to the stories of our graduates and the successes of our Shawnee young people.

Second, I am incredibly proud of the Shawnee Language Immersion Program (SLIP) and all they have accomplished to date. In mid-October, the SLIP team attended the Algonquian Conference in Boulder, Colorado. Our Staff Linguist Anastasia Miller-Youst presented research conducted with fluent speaker George Blanchard on our language’s prosody (i.e., melody). They connected with other professionals in the Algonquian language family.

With too few Shawnee speakers left, I declared a state of emergency for the Shawnee language early in my position as Chief. And on January 6, 2020, the Shawnee Tribe Business Council adopted Resolution R-01-0620-K, declaring the “Decade of the Shawnee Language (2021-2023)”:

“It is commanded that all language and cultural support staff commit attention to finding ways of creating fluent speakers from our youngest Shawnees, so that by the conclusion of the ‘Decade,’ we will have fluent youthful speakers….”

As part of these efforts to ensure the regeneration of saawanwatoweewe (Shawnee language), we have always provided language education free of charge to Shawnee people, including our Shawnee brothers and sisters enrolled as citizens elsewhere. I look forward to seeing even further growth in the already robust educational plan the SLIP team has built from the ground up.

Finally, in the next several months, I will be launching a youth council for our Shawnee young people. I hope this initiative will create future leaders by providing our youth education on tribal governance and Indian Law, as well as opportunities for hands-on experience in organized meetings, working with third-party institutions, public engagement and lobbying experiences.

It has always been a good day to be Shawnee; however, I know the best and brightest days are ahead of us. It is truly an honor and a privilege to serve you and to represent & defend the interests of our Shawnee people everywhere.

niyaawe, (thank you)

Ben Barnes 


Roy Baldridge
Second Chief

November 2, 2022

hatito caaki wiyeefa, (Hello everyone,)

I hope that everyone is doing well this month. Since the Annual General Council Meeting in September, we have been busy working on meeting the directives presented. We are forging ahead with Shawnee Development, LLC on expanding Golden Mesa Casino and other projects to further our Tribe’s economic growth and sustainability.

On the national stage, we have continued our engagement in initiatives regarding Indian Boarding Schools, specifically the Shawnee Indian Manual Labor School in Kansas. We are engaged because many of us have ancestors who attended the school during its operation. Some of our ancestors never returned to their families. This school’s location is also on our last reservation set aside for our Shawnee people.

We are engaged in responding to attacks on Tribal Sovereignty (Castro-Huerta v Oklahoma and Haaland v Brackeen) which deal with Tribal Jurisdiction and Indian Child Welfare, respectively. Both cases affect each of us, especially the Indian Child Welfare Act, which protects from the removal of our children from their homes in many cases. We continue to engage with multiple federal agencies about our land in Oklahoma and our former homelands.

As we fine-tune our existing citizen services, we (Business Council) are always looking ahead at potential future programs and opportunities. For example, Business Councilors Carolyn Foster, Carolyn Smith and Diana Mclean, and I are exploring the possibility of creating programs to assist our elder citizens throughout the country. Since it is our job to work for you, our fellow tribal citizens, we welcome any ideas or suggestions you may have. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or suggestions.

Before the last major spike in COVID over the 2021 holiday season, we were initiating a series of community meetings. Now that we are in a better place, plans for those meetings will resume. In the future, we will post information regarding an upcoming meeting to discuss options regarding elder services and other issues.

niyaawe, (Thank you,)

Roy D. Baldridge

Second Chief