An Oklahoma tribe and a city have formed an alliance. The Shawnee City Council voted unanimously to return the Potawatomi Nation’s land that was south of the North Canadian River. A historic vote setting aside differences, paving a way forward, together.
“I was born here, I lived here almost all my life and so I am as much an Oklahoman, a Shawnee person as the next guy, but I am also a Potawatomi Indian,” said John Barrett, the Tribal Chairman for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
Since the late 1800s, Potawatomi tribal members have settled in Shawnee.
“When I was in elementary school and high school here the Indians were invisible,” said the chairman.
Now in 2021, Shawnee’s detachment from tribal land south of the North Canadian River has sparked a new era of forgiveness and community.
“We all live here together. Everything good that happens here benefits folks on both sides of the river,” said Shawnee Mayor Ed Bolt.
“They looked and saw what the potential was in working with us. And we see the potential in working with the City of Shawnee,” said Barrett.
The new agreement, called Shawnee Aligned, will combine resources, putting money towards improving public facilities, fire and police protection and economic development.
“We are the largest employer here and have been for over a decade,” said Barrett.
The tribe is also developing an industrial park.
“If they hire 1,000 folks down there you know there is a good bet that a lot of those people are going to live up in Shawnee and spend a lot of money here,” said Bolt.
Both look forward to turning over a new leaf.
“It's just all about being good neighbors,” said the mayor.
“I am so very happy with Mayor Bolt and the leadership that he has shown,” said Barrett.
As part of the agreement the Potawatomi Tribe will now pay a lower rate on water and sewer as they expand businesses in town.