The Wyandotte Nation is a federally recognized Native American tribe headquartered in Wyandotte, Okla. The Tribe has nearly 6,000 tribal members nationwide.
The Wyandotte Nation was instrumental in the founding of Detroit, Mich., and Kansas City, Kansas. At one time Kansas City was named Wyandotte City.
The Wyandotte Nation operates according to a 1999 constitution and by-laws, governed by a committee comprised of a chief, second chief and four councilpersons. The committee is currently comprised of Chief Billy Friend, Second Chief Norman Hildebrand, Jr., and councilpersons Ramona Reid, Vivian Fink, Juanita McQuistion and Eric Lofland.
In 1983, Leaford Bearskin was elected Chief. He had a vision and determined purpose for his people. Under his leadership, the Wyandotte Nation grew to almost 5,000 members, secured the Tribe’s right of self-governance, initiated cultural renewal, and achieved economic growth unlike any other time in the Tribe’s history. The growth has continued in recent years under the leadership of Chief Friend, who replaced Bearskin after he passed away November 2012.
Under Chief Friend’s leadership, the Wyandotte Nation has grown close to 6,000 tribal members. The Tribe also built the Lost Creek Recycling Center in Wyandotte, its recent Heritage Acres Community Center and a Splash Pad – all of which serve the entire community. In addition, plans are in the works for constructing a Cultural Center & Museum.
Chief Friend also helped establish an Internship Program to give youth tribal members an opportunity for real world work experience at both the Wyandotte Nation and WTOK.
At the end of the summer, the interns also take a trip to visit some of their home lands and learn more about the history of the Tribe in Canada, Michigan, Ohio and Kansas.
The Wyandotte Nation operates its own Tribal Police Department and Tribal Court, as well as the Bearskin Healthcare & Wellness Center. The police department is unique in that it is the only tribal department in the U.S. that provides a non-tribal community with their sole source of police services. Officers are both tribal and municipal police officers, and employees of both the Wyandotte Nation and for the Town of Wyandotte.
For more information about the Tribe, its history and culture, visit www.wyandotte-nation.org.