Yaw^ko, Awkweku, I am proud to be here today speaking to you as the leader of the great Oneida Nation. Tehassitasi ni yukyats. Wakesliwake ni waki talot^, I am from the Bear Clan. I have been a lifelong resident of the Oneida Reservation and I am proud to be here before you today as Chairman.
I would like to recognize and thank my Mother Vicky, grandmother Dellora and my mother in law Lois, and my wife Kanatihal, these are some of the women in my life that have been so influential, guiding and supporting of me. I am also thankful to and for all our children and grandchildren, who teach us life lessons about love and make our family complete. In addition, I want to recognize my entire family. I have an amazing family that goes beyond bloodlines who support my ever growing efforts to be a good Oneida man which includes the roles of son, brother, grandson, nephew, father, and husband.
Our ancestors established the Oneida Reservation on February 2, 1838. More than 175 years ago Oneida people moved from the State of New York, after the nearly complete destruction of their homelands following the Revolutionary War. Oneida warriors fought to defend the United States in that war and as an ally of the United States to this very day, we continue to thank and honor Oneida Warriors. I would like to extend my appreciation and respect to all veterans and a special thanks to those who have carried in our flags today.
Yaw^ko Oneida Singers. It is always good to hear our songs and music on a happy occasion. The Oneida Singers are a part of our history and culture that is to be treasured.
Yaw^ko, Oneida Royalty, Tasha Stevens, Lexi Levinson, and Muneca Danforth.
I also want to extend a warm Oneida welcome to our guests from the surrounding governments and others who have traveled here today.
There are so many of you here today that we appreciate for your support, your encouragement and your commitment to the Oneida Nation. I congratulate my colleagues, Vice Chairman Brandon Yellowbird-Stevens, Treasurer Trish King, Secretary Lisa Summers, councilmembers Jenny Webster, David Jordan and newly elected councilmembers, Kirby Metoxen, Daniel Guzman-King, and Ernie Stevens the third. I am optimistic and excited to work with this great team of people. I look forward to working with a council that will act within our oath of office, improve communication, and be respectful of one another. I will encourage discussion, respect for opinions, and my door will always be open. Team work makes dream work. Success is founded in honest communication and the formation of great relationships.
Oneida Longhouse Community is responsible for the feast we will enjoy. There is a zero waste challenge that has been issued for the feast tonight. The challenge is to encourage the community to be responsible to reduce the waste in our environment. We applaud the challenge and in the future we will see more of “less waste”. Washing stations have been provided as well as biodegradable products for those of you who were not aware of the challenge. I encourage our community to work harder at being more conscious of our environment. The future will bring more events where this challenge will be encouraged. Yaw^ko to our longhouse community for preparing this feast.
Oneida Nation Schools is hosting our social dance tonight. As an Oneida Nation School Alumni, it is an honor to have these young men and women host our social dance. Our youth are our future. As a former student and graduate of Oneida Nation High School it is an honor to be standing in front of you today. An honor that humbles me and I appreciate each and every one of those who supported me on this journey. We will need your continued support. I acknowledge that I do not stand up here alone and will look to my colleagues to keep us on our path when we stray. I will look to you, the membership for guidance and words of encouragement to get us through the heavy conversations. A good mind. A good heart. A strong fire. Those three words are what will get me through each and every day because those words are who we are as Oneida people. We have a lot of work ahead of us and I believe whole heartedly that we are up for the challenge.
In a few days, I will be before General Tribal Council as your Chairman. I am both excited and hopeful that we can improve the participation and outcome of those meetings, by being respectful to one another and leading by example. I will encourage more regularly scheduled General Tribal Council meetings. My goal is to create ways to engage in a good way with our citizens through our meetings and conduct business on behalf of our Nation. My role as your Chairman is not one that I take lightly and look forward to creating a solution based membership, where we collectively, together, create solutions that will guide us on our path for generations to come. I have many priorities on my list of to do’s. A major concern that we also have is the opioid epidemic. We will continue to work with the community to address this darkness that is upon us.
In closing, I want to ask everyone to support our leadership, be mindful of the challenges we face, be encouraging and be honest with us. We have pledged to do our best, we hope to bring the Oneida Nation back to strengthening our core values. We truly are a nation of strong families build upon Tsiniyukwalihot^ and a strong economy. But most importantly, we are a sovereign nation and it is our responsibility to exercise our sovereignty, protect our sovereignty, and remember all that we do and all that we say today will impact the next seven generations.