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June 19, 2014

Meet Native America: Marshall R. Gover, President, Pawnee Business Council

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, the 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 people today. —Dennis Zotigh, NMAI 

Chief Gover 1c
Marshall R. Gover, president of the Pawnee Business Council. Photo courtesy of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma.

Please introduce yourself with your name and title.

Marshall R. Gover, president, Pawnee Business Council. 

Where is the Pawnee Nation located?

Our headquarters are in Pawnee, Oklahoma.

Where were the Pawnee originally from?

Nebraska.

How is your nation's government set up?

The Pawnee Business Council is the supreme governing body of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma. 

There is also a Nasharo Council made up of two members chosen from each of our four bands—the Skiri, Kitkehahki, Chaui, and Pitahawirata. The Nasharo Council reviews acts of the Pawnee Business Council regarding membership and claims or rights growing out of our treaties with the United States.

How often are elected leaders chosen?

The eight members of the Business Council serve terms of four years. Elections are held every two years, so that the seats are alternated. All members of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma who are 18 years old or older are eligible to vote.

How often does the Business Council meet?

There are meetings twice a month. The Constitution of the Pawnee Nation calls for four quarterly meetings out of the year.

Approximately how many members are in the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma?

3,375.

What are the criteria to become a member?

A person must have a Pawnee blood quantum of at least one-eighth. 

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President Gover taking part in an honoring ceremony. Photo courtesy of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma.

Is your language still spoken on your homelands? If so, what percentage of your people would you estimate are fluent speakers?

A handful of people are fluent speakers of the Pawnee language.

What economic enterprises does your nation own?

The Pawnee Tribal Development Corporation (PTDC) owns and operates the Stonewolf and Trading Post casinos and retail, restaurant, and travel businesses associated with the casinos.

What annual events does your nation sponsor?

We host the Pawnee Indian Veterans Homecoming, Memorial Day Dance, Veterans Dance, and Christmas Dance through the Pawnee Indian Veterans Organization.

What other attractions are available for visitors on your land?

The buildings of the Pawnee Indian School are still standing. Today they are used by the Pawnee Nation College. 

Thank you.

Thank you.

To read other interviews in this series, click on the banner below. Meet-native-america
From left to right: Representative Ponka-We Victors (Tohono O’odham/Southern Ponca) taking the oath of office in the Kansas House of Representatives; photo courtesy of Kansas Rep. Scott Schwab. Bird Runningwater (Cheyenne/Mescalero Apache) at the Sundance Film Festival; photo courtesy of WireImage. Sergeant Debra Mooney (Choctaw) at the powwow in Al Taqaddum Air Force Base, Iraq, 2004; photo courtesy of Sgt. Debra Mooney. Councilman Jonathan Perry (Wampanoag) in traditional clothing; photo courtesy of Jonathan Perry. Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne/Hodulgee Muscogee) at Blackhorse et al. v. Pro Football, Inc., press conference, U.S. Patent and Trade Office, February 7, 2013; photo courtesy of Mary Phillips. All images used with permission. 

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