News from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 11, 2010
Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs visits Sardis Lake
Story and photos by Judy Allen, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk and Senior Advisor to the President on Indian Affairs Kim Tee Hee visited the Choctaw Nation August 10th for a first-hand view of Sardis Lake. The Assistant Secretary said he felt very grateful to be in Southeast Oklahoma and have an opportunity to do a site visit of Sardis Lake, especially since there had been dialogue concerning the lake with the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations in the past few months.
Echo Hawk reiterated the request in a June 11 letter to the Oklahoma Water Resources Board that any final action of the proposed transfer of water be deferred pending consultations with appropriate federal officials as well as both tribes.
“I am very pleased to show Assistant Secretary Echo Hawk and Ms. Tee Hee the beauty of Sardis Lake and reaffirm the tribe’s interests during this important visit,” said Choctaw Chief Gregory E. Pyle. “It is the sincere commitment of the tribal nations to protect water of Oklahoma. This is a Tribal Trust issue and we appreciate the Assistant Secretary’s help and involvement in this aspect. We have experienced a good relationship with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department of Interior in the past and look forward to continued association.”
Chief Pyle also commented on his appreciation of Ms. Tee Hee’s visit. A member of the Cherokee Nation, Tee Hee serves in the White House under the appointment of President Obama as his Senior Advisor on Native American issues. “Kim Tee Hee’s service in the White House has been a tremendous benefit to Indian Country. Tribes across the United States are appreciative of her efforts as a liaison, and the Council and I are thrilled to host her in our Nation. We feel confident that she will carry our message of commitment back to Washington, D.C. I know from working with her on past issues, she has been a great asset.”
During the visit to Sardis Lake, Echo Hawk and Tee Hee learned of the proximity of Choctaw Capitol at Tushka Homma (Choctaw for Red Warrior) to Sardis Lake. The historic seat of government for the Choctaw Nation is home to the Council House Museum, constructed in 1884 and is located only about a mile or so from the lake. This two-story red brick building has been in continuous ownership and use of the tribe since it was erected. Current uses for the Council House include the museum and a Tribal Court.
“Tribal Nations and the Federal Government enjoy a government-to-government relationship and being this close to the Choctaws’ Capitol is a very appropriate closing to the afternoon’s tour of this area,” said Echo Hawk. His first visit to this part of Oklahoma, Echo Hawk admired the beauty of the hills and the water around Sardis.
The Choctaw Tribal Council were on the shores of the lake to greet the team of people from Washington, D.C. As representatives for the twelve districts inside the boundaries, as well as the Choctaws living across the globe, the Council presented a united front in their request for assistance from the Federal officials in protecting Sardis Lake. -30-