Listen to this article here

Jasha Lyons Echo-Hawk, who is running for Seminole Nation Assistant Chief, is not your average candidate. Lyons Echo-Hawk, who is a member of the Thomas Palmer Band and the Deer Clan, aims to support and empower all members of the Seminole Nation, and to address the tribe as it faces a reckoning over historical policies. 

Lyons Echo-Hawk has plenty of experience as a community advocate. Previously, she was a candidate for House District 35 and has a long history of organizing around human rights, including violence against Indigenous people, body sovereignty, gun violence prevention, criminal justice reform, Census & Natives Vote 2020, and other issues facing Indigenous populations. 

Lyons Echo-Hawk is particularly focused on social justice and injustices facing the Seminole Nation, of whom 80% of tribal members live outside the jurisdiction. “Indigeneity is a spectrum, just like any other ethnicity and race, with some people having more privilege than others,” she noted during an interview with The Black Wall St Times. 

An advocate for Seminole Freedmen

Lyons Echo-Hawk is one of the few candidates who supports full tribal membership for Seminole Freedmen, the descendants of people who were enslaved by some members of the tribal nation. The issue of citizenship for Seminole Freedman recently came to the forefront of Seminole policy when a member of the Seminole Freedman tribe was denied their COVID-19 vaccine from Seminole Indian Health Services. 

One of Lyons Echo-Hawk’s policy focuses is ensuring that the needs of all tribal citizens are met through programs, administration, and economic resources. She is also interested in the long-term implications of the recent McGirt v. Oklahoma ruling, which could affect tribal sovereignty and other aspects of treaties between the United States and tribal nations in Oklahoma. 

Lyons Echo-Hawk has worked with such organizations as the National Congress of the American Indians, ACLU, Native Organizers Alliance, Oklahoma Policy Institute, Pawnee Seed Preservation Project, and the Tulsa Birth Center. She is proud of her history in the matrilineal Seminole nation, and includes her mother, grandmothers, and other relatives in her identity. 

Seminole Nation elections July 10

With a focus on family, Jasha Lyons Echo-Hawk wants to ensure that future Seminole generations receive support through investment in tribal members and programs. “Prioritizing community development means creating opportunities for citizens today and tomorrow,” she says of her policy priorities.  

To learn more about Jasha Lyons Echo-Hawk, go to her website, Jasha Lyons Echo-Hawk for Seminole National Assistant Chief 2S

To learn more about the Seminole Nation elections on July 10, visit the Seminole Nation Election Board’s website.

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...