Native American Tribes Boost Oklahoma's Economy

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Oklahoma has the largest population of Native Americans among all 50 states, a population that adds nearly $11 billion to the state's economy each and every year. As the Tulsa World noted, Oklahoma's total annual economic impact is $148 billion, to which the 38 federally recognized tribes in the state contribute 7 percent.

Economic Impact Analysis on the Statewide Impact of Oklahoma Tribes

Oklahoma City University's Steven C. Agee Economic Research & Policy Institute recently conducted an economic impact study , released today to the press, examining the statewide impact of the tribes living in the state.

In addition to the $10.8 billion that the 38 federally recognized tribes of the Sooner State collectively added to its economy, they also supported 87,000 jobs, representing 5 percent of the more than 1.5 million jobs throughout the state. Businesses such as the gaming industry, professional and retail services and the hospitality and entertainment industry provided $5.6 billion of the tribes' $10.8 billion dollar economic impact.

The tribes also contributed $792 million to various Oklahoma businesses and governmental bodies for education, health care, social service and economic development opportunities for Native Americans, reported Business Wire . Direct payroll contributions from the Tribes amounted to $1.5 billion in state and local taxes, an average of $27,610 per employee.

Economic Impact Analysis Funding Sources, Cooperating Tribes

The Oklahoma Department of Commerce founded and sponsored this economic impact analysis and the Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Choctaw Nations also provided funding.

Tribes cooperating and participating in the study were the Cherokee Nation, Chickasaw Nation, the Choctaw Nation, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Muskogee (Creek) Nation, Peoria Tribe, and Shawnee Tribe.

Reactions to Analysis Results

Tulsa World reported that Dave Lopez, Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce, released this statement in regards to the economic impact analysis: "As made evident by the results in the study, Oklahoma's tribes provide economic opportunities and growth to many Oklahomans -- particularly in rural areas of the state."

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said this first-of-a-kind study allows the Native Americans' contributions to the state to be quantified and that now and in the future, the Tribes want to continue to partner with Oklahoma government for the benefit of everyone living in the state.

Kyle Dean, Ph.D., associate director and research economist at the Meinders School of Business at Oklahoma City University, stated to Business Wire that the research reveals the positive impact the tribes' economic input has in Oklahoma and represents important income and opportunities for people living in the rural parts of the state.

Bottom Line

Although there could be little doubt that a population of more than 480,00 citizens must indeed have an economic impact on Oklahoma's economy, it is eye-opening to learn of just how much impact the Native Americans have in the state.

Smack dab in the middle of the baby boomer generation, L.L. Woodard is a proud resident of "The Red Man" state. With what he hopes is an everyman's view of life's concerns both in his state and throughout the nation, Woodard presents facts and opinions based on common-sense solutions.

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