Thursday, March 12, 2015

Meet Native America: Lisa Johnson-Billy, Oklahoma Representative for District 42

Meet Native American. The National Museum of the American Indian.

"In the interview series Meet Native America, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian invites tribal leaders, cultural figures, and other interesting and accomplished Native individuals to introduce themselves and say a little about their lives and work. Together, their responses illustrate the diversity of the indigenous communities of the Western Hemisphere, as well as their shared concerns, and offer insights beyond what’s in the news to the ideas and experiences of Native peoples today." 
-Dennis Zotigh, NMAI 

Oklahoma Representative Lisa Johnson-Billy (Chickasaw and Choctaw).  Photo Courtesy of the Oklahoma State Capitol  and the National Museum of the American Indian Blog.
Oklahoma Representative Lisa Johnson-Billy (Chickasaw and Choctaw).
 Photo Courtesy of the Oklahoma State Capitol
and the National Museum of the American Indian Blog.
"Please introduce yourself with your name and title.
Lisa Johnson-Billy, Oklahoma representative for district 42.

What tribes are you affiliated with?
Are there any other Natives who are elected leaders in your state?
Yes, there are other Native Americans who serve in the legislature. In fact, nearly 10 years ago, Rep. Paul Wesselhoft (Citizen Potawatomi) and I set up the first Oklahoma Native American Caucus. As we began the process of developing the caucus, then-member Shane Jett, a Cherokee citizen, eagerly jumped on board, and together we developed by-laws and elected chairmen. I served as the first co-chairman. We designed the caucus to be bipartisan, in that we always elect one chairman who is a Republican and one who is a Democrat. Our original goals included developing better relationships with our tribal governments and leaders. We also assisted House and Senate members in knowing which tribe or tribes live in their districts. The caucus has accomplished these goals and has passed several pieces of significant legislation, including a tribal law enforcement bill and a tribal language bill. We also created a tribal liaison position with the governor's leadership team. The caucus has about twenty members with most of those holding Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood (CDIB) cards."

To read the full interview, click here.

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