Gov. Kelly Seeks Inclusivity with Kansas Tribes

10.6.20|By Michelle Simon

10.2.20 – Governor Laura Kelly seeks to include tribal governments.

Governor Laura Kelly recently disclosed one of her high priorities is that all Kansans feel included, and specifically for Kansas tribes to feel they have a seat at the table when it comes to working with the governor.

Gov. Kelly revealed that this fall she intends to extend an invitation to all Tribal governments located within Kansas to come together and discuss issues of concern as related to the Kansas legislature, and how her administration may be able to advocate on the tribes’ behalf.

“The Kansas tribes are sovereign nations that we want to partner with,” said Gov. Kelly during an October 2, 2020, sit-down interview with the PBP News.

Executive Director of the Kansas Native American Affairs (KNAA) Office/Tribal Liaison for Gov. Kelly, Chris Howell noted that during Governor Kelly’s tenure she has started using the phrase, “All Kansans,” which is a subtle nod of recognition to the three levels of government retained by tribal members at the tribal, federal and state levels.

Within the framework for re-opening the state during the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Kelly acknowledged the sovereignty of the local Tribal governments in Executive Order No. 20-29 dated April 30, 2020.  In which it states, under Essential Functions, “The Four Tribes of Kansas (Iowa Tribe, Kickapoo Nation, Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, and Sac & Fox Nation) retain any authority to regulate through their respective tribal councils for the health and welfare of their population.” The language was added after consultation with the tribes during on-going, state-wide weekly emergency management calls, wherein county government officials, state officials and tribal officials coordinate information and strategies in managing the coronavirus pandemic.

“I want to represent [the tribes] as much as any other Kansan,” stated Gov. Kelly, “I want to ensure that all of the tribes feel they have a connection here and know I am open and listening.”