Investing in Oklahoma’s Most Critical Resource
Oklahoma tribal nations are providing a positive impact on the state today. But it’s likely their contributions to tomorrow are even more significant. That comes in the form of education, where tribes have long been committed to helping build the best possible education system for all Oklahomans.
Improving Public Education
Since 2006, tribes have made direct payments to the state in the form of exclusivity fees that have exceeded $1.8 billion. Nearly all of the monies were earmarked for the state education fund. And almost without exception, the contribution amount increases each year. In 2019 alone, tribes remitted more than $148 million to the state. These are funds that are then used to support education that benefits all Oklahoma citizens.
In addition to exclusivity fees, the tribes of Oklahoma provide direct funding and investments to help grow public and higher education, including colleges and vocational training. Direct funding comes from tribally issued motor vehicle tag sales, donations, scholarships and other financial support. This support totaled $80.5 million in 2017.
Combined with $117 million in exclusivity fees, the tribes delivered $198 million for education in the state all told that year. That’s nearly $200 million to help grow, support and equip our children — the future of our state and this nation — thanks to the tribal nations of Oklahoma.
Transforming Higher Education
Another area of focus is higher education. Tribal financial support ranges from annual scholarships to tuition and housing assistance. “Every higher educational institution in Oklahoma, every one of them, has received a benefit from tribal nations,” assures Judge Robert Henry. He served as president of Oklahoma City University from 2010-2018. “From scholarships, endowed chairs, building contributions, all sorts of things, high ed would be in a difficult spot without the philanthropy of the tribes.”