Tribal leaders praise override of tribal regalia veto

Updated: May. 26, 2023 at 9:26 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Texoma Tribal nations are celebrating an Oklahoma bill as it moves closer to becoming law - after legislators banded together to overcome a veto.

Senate Bill 429 allows students enrolled in certain schools to wear their tribal regalia during graduation ceremonies.

The bill defines regalia as traditional Tribal garments, jewelry, or adornments like an eagle feather, beaded cap, or anything holding cultural and religious significance with any of the federally recognized tribes.

The bill was co-authored by all three of Lawton’s state lawmakers... and it passed in the House and Senate with only one dissenting vote.

Despite the overwhelming support, it was vetoed days after it was sent to the Governor in late April.

In his veto message, Governor Kevin Stitt saying it would open a proverbial Pandora’s box for other groups to demand special favor to wear whatever they please during a formal ceremony.

The veto was ultimately over-ridden by lawmakers on Thursday, in a 80 to 11 vote.

Comanche Nation chairman Mark Woommavovah praised the override.

“This kind of shows what we can do by working together,” he said. “Not only working together, but working together positively. Making those connections in our community and building those partnerships. We are definitely Comanche Strong, but we’re stronger together.”

Chairman Lawrence Spottedbird of the Kiowa Tribe also celebrating the over-ride, telling 7news over the phone that it was, “tremendous news coming from the state legislative body, to right the wrong that was initiated by our governor.”

He said it also gave him faith that the tribes can work with Oklahoma state leaders.

Both Chairmen also applauded state lawmakers who were instrumental in making Senate Bill 429 become law.

State Representative Daniel Pae of Lawton said he pleased with the development.

“I am pleased to see the legislature exercise its checks and balances to override this veto,” he said in a statement. “I’m proud to have co-authored this bill, with Senator John Michael Montgomery, and Representative Trey Caldwell, who worked diligently during the past four years to get this done.”

This bill is just one bill of 13 over-ridden by legislators on Thursday alone.

The measure is set to take effect on July 1st, paving the way forward for graduations in time for next year’s ceremonies