Native Village
Youth and Education news
January 1, 2011 Volume 1

Presidential tribal summit provides networking opportunities

By Kerry Steiner, American Indian Center of Indiana
Condensed by Native Village


Council members from the Delaware Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma left to right: Chet Brooks,  Wayne Stull,Vicki Sousa, and Chief  Pechonick. 

Washington, D.C.: The Lenni Lenape are commonly called the Delaware Indians. They were the first Indian Nation to sign an agreement with the U.S. regarding their lands in the Treaty of Fort Pitt in 1778.

Despite the Treaty, the Delaware were forced west within a couple years. After being relocated more than a dozen times, they finally settled in Oklahoma.  During those years they were a landless tribe. Sadly, they still are today. 


“We’re hoping to acquire some land,” explained Paula Pechonick, chief of the Delaware Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma and the first woman to ever hold the position.  Her tribe is referred to as the Eastern Delaware.


Pechonick joined 250 other tribal leaders at a reception held the evening  before the second White House Tribal Summit.  Held at the National Museum of American Indians, the gathering enabled tribal leaders to informally meet and mingle.

Paula Pechonick (left), Wayne Stull (right, and Ron Sparkman,

Although the summit focused on education among tribal nations, many leaders used the reception to network and discuss the many issues their people face both on and off the reservation.


“Most tribes have unique problems. Health, education and land trust; each is very unique," said Ron Sparkman, tribal chairman of the Shawnee.  "I am honored to be one of the 14 tribal leaders to attend a meeting on law enforcement, and I hope to bring about a better relationship by learning best practices from others who are here.”

During the summit, Chief Pechonick hoped to discuss her tribe's land issues with people from the Department of Justice and Department of Interior.  Through a series of events, the Delaware lost federal recognition and ended up under the Cherokee Nation’s jurisdiction. Their federal recognition was returned in 1996. Hopefully, through the determination of Chief Pechonick and her council members, the Delaware will once again have land they can call home.

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