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Oklahoma Native American Liaison Jacque Hensley Gives Report

Oklahoma Native American Liaison Jacque Hensley, a Kaw tribal member, gave her annual report on Jan. 7. The report signaled improved relations between tribes and the state in her second year as the first Native American liaison to the Oklahoma governor.

“I do believe that Oklahoma has made significant progress,” she said.

Hensley praised Kaw Nation’s SouthWind Casino Kaw City, which opened as the first completely smoke-free casino in Oklahoma, as a major step for public health.

“I’d be remised if I didn’t mention the Kaw Nation’s commitment to improving the overall health of all Oklahomans,” she said. “I’m hopeful that more casinos will follow Chairman [Guy] Munroe’s lead and make all their facilities smoke free and help improve the overall health of all Oklahomans.”

She noted two major public safety efforts, including a law strengthening tribal law enforcement cross-deputization and the burn ban compact proposed by Kaw Nation. The compact allows tribes to declare burn bans ahead of the state and counties.

“As a result of the terrible fires that effected our State, the Governor’s office was approached by Kaw Nation with a desire to draft, execute and implement a Tribal-State Burn Ban Agreement,” she said.

Hensley noted that three other tribes followed Kaw Nation in entering burn ban agreements with the state.

One of her pet projects has been supporting improvements in Indian Child Welfare. She has met with ICW workgroups at the state, regional and local level. She has been involved with ICW workgroups, which are Oklahoma Indian Child Welfare Association subcommittees that focus on specific issues.

“She is very active,” said Kaw Nation Indian Child Welfare Case Worker Roger Sober. “She gives us a voice. She gives a voice to all Indian children.”

Hensley has worked to smooth relationships between those involved in ICW processes.

“She works with the state, the tribal ICW groups, OICWA and judges to help partnerships in all of those,” Sober said.

Hensley, who has been the Native American liaison since July 2012, met with all 38 tribes in Oklahoma in the fall. Also, she meets weekly with Governor Mary Fallin and attends senior staff meetings.

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