Tribes Aid in Major Emergencies

When disaster strikes, it’s vital to have the right resources and communication tools to be able to effectively respond. Many times, tribal nations are the first ones on the ground, and they bring potentially life-saving resources, equipment and manpower to help other agencies and ensure public safety. As John Hobbs, the executive director of public safety for Choctaw Nation, notes, “any time we have a resource and we can help out another agency, that’s what we want to do.”

With emergency management, the job is to protect citizens. It doesn’t matter whether they’re native or non-native, they’re human. You protect everyone.
Tim Zientek
Director, Emergency Management, Citizen Potawatomi Nation

“What Can We Do to Help?”

“Many Oklahomans have benefited from a tribal response to an emergency like a tornado or a flood and they may not have known it,” says Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “Our emergency management teams send resources in and they don’t ask who’s Cherokee and who’s not. They say this is a community in need and what can we do to help?”

Local agencies often find themselves turning to the tribes for assistance. “Chickasaw Nation has additional resources we can use if there’s a big natural disaster,” says Grady County Sheriff Jim Weir. “They’re ready and able to come out and help us with more equipment and personnel and anything else we might need.” Sheriff Gary Dodd of Johnston County concurs. “During times of disaster, we can call up on the Lighthorse police and get resources from them that aren’t readily available to us.”

For Citizen Potawatomi Nation, being prepared for emergency scenarios starts with clear communication. That’s why the tribe invested millions of dollars into a 911 dispatch system that connects 28 different first responder agencies. Provided at no charge to the community, the network has improved response times and, no doubt, saved lives. Learn more here.

We have a large mobile emergency operation trailer that we will pull up to scene and it provides a workspace for people to coordinate and prioritize how the response is going to go.
Jeff Hansen
Director, Community Protection, Choctaw Nation
If there’s a natural disaster, we know that we can call the tribe.
Gary Dodd
Johnston County
The Chickasaw Lighthorse are always trying to help the very best way we can. Sometimes that’s with law enforcement, sometimes that’s helping people who are in danger because of the seasonal storms.
Mike Manning
Chief of Police
Chickasaw Nation Lighthorse Police (Ret. 2023)
The communities that we have partnered with and work with every day understand that if there is a need, that we will be there to help and to help provide them with life-saving efforts.
Tim Zientek
Director, Emergency Management
Citizen Potawatomi Nation