Oklahoma Governor’s Office Appoints Native Liaison
One year after the dissolution of the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission, Oklahoma Republican Governor Mary Fallin has appointed Kaw Nation member Jacque Secondine Hensley as her Native American liaison, as first reported in the Tulsa World on July 10.
“Oklahoma’s tribes have a valuable and unique impact on Oklahoma’s economy and our culture,” Fallin said in a statement released by her office. “My administration has always worked closely with Oklahoma’s tribes and will continue to do so in the future. The appointment of Jacque Secondine Hensley as Native American liaison will further enhance the partnership and communication between the governor’s office and Oklahoma’s tribes.”
After a change in qualifications was made by the Oklahoma legislature from a ¼ Native blood quantum to that of an enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe, the deadline for Fallin to hire an American Indian liaison also changed to December 1, 2012.
One Oklahoma legislator with the House of Representatives who has been following the liaison issue closely is Chuck Hoskin, D-District 6. A member of the Cherokee Nation, Hoskin serves as the Cherokee Nation’s Chief of Staff to Principal Chief Bill John Baker when not in legislative session.
ICTMN reported on June 26 that Hoskin wants to make the liaison position stronger by creating an executive-level cabinet position, such as a “Secretary of Native American Affairs.” Hoskin’s amendment to create this position received bipartisan support in the House but did not pass in the Oklahoma State Senate.
“After two years of waiting, I’m glad to see the governor has appointed someone as Native American liaison,” Hoskin said. “I still believe that the liaison position needs to be elevated to a Cabinet position, a Secretary of Native American Affairs, to solidify the government-to-government relationship that exists between the state and the various tribes in Oklahoma.
“While I don’t know Ms. Hensley,” Hoskin continued, “I’m looking forward to working with her in hopes of a stronger relationship between the state of Oklahoma and Oklahoma’s tribal nations.”
According to the statement from Fallin’s office, Hensley’s resume includes a bachelor’s degree in education from Oklahoma State University and a master’s in psychological counseling from the University of Tulsa. Her professional experience is primarily in law enforcement, with former positions with the Bureau of Indian Affairs as a child abuse investigator and as an adjunct professor at the Indian Police Academy in Artesia, New Mexico.
Currently, Hensley serves as an investigator for the U.S. Department of Defense, where her area of expertise includes suspected fraud of military contracts and health care. She has also served as the president of Oklahoma’s State Child Protection Team and is a member of the National Native American Law Enforcement Association.
“I am grateful to Governor Fallin for the opportunity to serve in her administration as Native American liaison,” said Hensley in the governor’s issued release. “I look forward to building upon the positive relationships between the governor’s office, state agencies and Oklahoma’s tribal governments.”
Hensley is scheduled to begin her duties as liaison on August 6.