The Otoe-Missouria Tribe

The Otoe-Missouria Tribe

  • Tribal Council Member Diagnosed with COVID-19

    on March 25, 2020

    EDITOR'S NOTE: After several weeks of trying to get tested for COVID-19, Tribal Council Member Myra Pickering finally got her diagnosis. She is sharing her story and a warning with her people.

    On March 9, Otoe-Missouria Tribal Council Member Myra L. Pickering went to work at the tribal complex. As the day progressed, she started to feel ill with flu-like symptoms. She told the front office receptionist she was headed home and would be out the rest of the day.

    Pickering went to the doctor that evening, who tested her for flu. She was negative. And because she hadn’t traveled abroad, she didn’t meet the criteria in Oklahoma for COVID-19 testing at that time.

    Pickering was sent home with some antiviral medication and to rest. The doctor told her when she was 24 hours free of fever and she felt better, she could return to work.

    On March 12, she returned to work where she took part in several meetings throughout the day. Including a meeting with Raed Al-Zaher from the Noble County Health Department and all tribal directors and executive director.

    “In the meeting, it was explained that there was no community spread in Oklahoma at the time. And that made me feel that we, as a community, were fine,” Pickering says. “So I personally felt OK with being at work.”

    Then on March 15, Pickering had some symptoms that felt like allergies. They progressively got worse until she was continuously coughing and started to have shortness of breath. The next day, she went to Pawnee Indian Health Service to get checked out and they diagnosed her with pneumonia, gave her antibiotics and told her to follow up with the doctor the following Monday.

    Pickering says at the time of the appointment she did not have a fever, so she did not meet the CDC guidelines to be tested for COVID-19.  

    On March 18, Pickering was feeling worse. She went to the Stillwater Emergency Room to get checked out, hoping for relief.

    “They basically told me I was not considered critical and that my levels were all good so I would not be admitted,” Pickering says, “but if I got worse to return back. In my opinion, I thought I was worse. I could barely breath and I did not feel good! I could barely walk across the room without coughing and gasping for air. I had no air. It scared me.”

    Pickering returned to the doctor’s office on March 23, where they diagnosed her with double pneumonia. The doctor finally made the decision to test her for COVID-19 because the criteria for testing had changed since her previous doctor visits. She was advised to return to the Stillwater Emergency Room again to see if she could be admitted.

    “They told me again that I was not considered critical and that my levels were all good so therefore I would not be admitted,” Pickering says. “They sent me home, again.”

    On March 24, Pickering’s test results came back positive for COVID-19 and she was told by Pawnee Indian Health Service Infectious Control Nurse that her, her husband and son would need to self-quarantine themselves for the next 2 weeks (14 days). She was also told that the Pawnee County Health Department would be in contact with her soon.

    Currently, there is no specific treatment for COVID-19. Instead, healthcare providers are treating symptoms at home. Pickering is drinking her fluids, resting, doing medicated breathing treatments.

    “I’m not as sick as I was last week, but I’m still struggling at times to breathe,” Pickering says. “I am not out of the woods yet. I don’t have a fever and have been fever free for the past 48 hours. I’m just coughing now.”

    In her early 40s and healthy, she didn’t expect to get this sick.

    “The only underlying medical condition I have is diabetes, but it is controlled,” Pickering says. “I have no idea how I got the virus, but now that Oklahoma has confirmed community exposure, it could have been from anywhere.”

    Pickering says the reason she is telling her story is because she wants people to take the warning seriously. It is true that this virus does not discriminate.

    “The tribe and casinos are closed,” Pickering says. “I want people to listen to what the healthcare experts are saying. Educate yourself. Stay home if at all possible. Practice social distancing. This is real and it’s serious. I’m struggling to catch my breath and there is nothing anyone can do to help me. The Stillwater hospital won’t even keep me. It’s been really scary for me and my family. Please keep, not only me and my family in your prayers, but our entire Otoe-Missouria Tribe, elders, youth and our community. I do not want any of my tribal members to contract this virus, it’s no good!”

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    on March 23, 2020

    The Otoe-Missouria Tribal Complex will be closed beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, March 24 due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and will remain closed for the week. The Otoe-Missouria Police Department will remain open. The OM Water Department will continue to deliver water to their customers as well. 

    A dropbox has been set up at OMPD to accept Tribal Assistance Program forms. Forms may also be mailed to the tribal complex. The TAP extra ordinary cards will be mailed ONLY, no pick-up of cards.  

    More info about the way tribe is addressing COVID-19 on our website

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  • Teen CERT Camp Taking Applications

    on February 20, 2020

    We are happy to announce the Youth Preparedness TEEN CERT Camp is ready to kick off. The camp will be held on the Otoe-Missouria Tribal Complex June, 15-19, 2020. The students must sign and must have paperwork complete and signed by parents. Tribes who are coming from a lengthy distance will be arriving on June 14th at the First Council Casino Hotel. Enrollment for the camp is capped at 60 students. Please get the applications in.

    There will be an advanced session and an introduction session. Please put on the top of the application whether you are interested in introduction or advanced course.

    For those youth who live within a 40 mile radius of the OM Tribal Complex, they will not be housed at the hotel.  


    Please email applications to, but please mail the originals to the address below C/O James LeClair.

    Otoe-Missouria Tribe
    C/O James LeClair
    8151 HWY 177
    Building 9 Truman Dailey Learning Center 
    Red Rock, Oklahoma 74651

    Toll Free: (877) 692-6863
    Office (580) 723-4466 Ext 142

    Teen CERT Camp Flyer
    Teen CERT Introduction Agenda
    Teen CERT Advanced Agenda
    Teen CERT Camp Notes
    Teen CERT Release & Waiver
    Teen CERT Camp Application

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  • Health Benefit Card Changes in 2020

    By Courtney Burgess, Tribal Treasurer on January 1, 2020

    The Otoe-Missouria Tribal Council decided it was best not to renew the AirMedCare flight insurance and put the funds instead toward the Tribal Assistance Health Benefit program.

    This change is necessary to maintain the Health Benefit assistance program at a similar level in the new year. Since changing the Health Benefit program to a benefit card from a reimbursement program, more tribal members have taken advantage of the program.

    The Tribal Assistance Program was created to help tribal members when all other resources have been exhausted. The Health Benefit card was provided to give you, the tribal member, for ease of accessibility to direct assistance for such services when needed.

    Although the cards have always been preloaded for our tribal members with the amount of assistance offered, the tribe only pays what is being used. In other words, if someone decides not to use the Health Benefit Card, then the tribe does not lose money at the end of the year because someone did not use the benefit. Those funds remain in the tribe’s Health Benefit Card budget.

    In addition to more people taking advantage of the Health Benefit Card, the tribal enrollment continues to grow. In 2020, our enrollment will exceed 3,300 members, which will increase the funds needed to offer the tribal assistance.

    In 2020, the Health Benefit Card amount will decrease by $50 so that quarterly assistance of $300 can be divided equally for a total of $1,200 yearly. The benefit card will be loaded with $300 each quarter and will expire when the new quarter begins. Balances will not carry over.

    The cost for the Health Benefit of $1,200, plus administrative fees to manage the card through Keystone Flex is over $4.2 million. The Extraordinary Direct Assistance is eligible quarterly as well, with a limit of $250 per tribal member. This is another assistance offered that alone is over $3.2 million. These two tribal assistance benefits total $7.4 million. The Otoe-Missouria Tribe has been fortunate enough to provide these services along with, school expenses reimbursement, holiday assistance, and elder assistance to its people thanks to our successful tribal enterprises.

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  • A Message Regarding Air Evac/AirMedCare

    on December 9, 2019

    As of October 13, 2019, coverage by Air Evac/AirMedCare Air Ambulance Services expired. Letters were mailed by Air Evac/AirMedCare to all head-of-household contacts on December 1, 2019 to notify members of this termination.

    For administrative reasons, it has been decided by the Otoe-Missouria Tribal Council that the service will not be renewed by the Otoe-Missouria Tribe.

    The funding for the Air Evac/AirMedCare was part of the Tribal Assistance Program budget. The money previously spent on the Air Evac/AirMedCare will be used to supplement programs in the TAP budget, which are used more frequently i.e. Medical/Dental assistance.

    Individuals may purchase family coverage for $85 a year through Air Evac/AirMedCare directly at 855-213-4300 or online at

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  • Tribe Partners with County and American Red Cross to Dispense Medication

    By Heather Payne, Otoe-Missouria Public Affairs Office on October 17, 2019

    RED ROCK, Okla.--The Otoe-Missouria Tribe has partnered with Payne County and the American Red Cross to become a “Push Partner” Point of Dispensing (POD) site in the event of a biological emergency such as an epidemic flu outbreak.

    The tribe has been working on this project for seven-years. The tribe’s Emergency Manager James LeClair spearheaded all the agreements with area health agencies such as the American Red Cross and Indian Health Services who will help in the event the POD is activated.

    The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) developed the “Push Partner” Program in 2006 in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) medical countermeasures requirements for the Cities Readiness Initiative.

    The push partner program builds capacity so that community partners know how to conduct dispensing operations at a proficiency level equal to that of current public health staff. The program helps partners be successful in demonstrating their dispensing plan.

    The Otoe-Missouria POD will dispense life-saving medications to tribal members, tribal employees and their families. Those who fall under this criterion, but do not live near the Red Rock area are encouraged to go to a POD near their residence. Limiting the movement of other populations will help reduce the spread of any possible contagion and allows the tribe and county to have the proper supply of medication on hand at the dispensing site.

    “By partnering with American Red Cross,” LeClair says, “we are able to use their nurses to help dispense medication at our POD, which will ease the burden on our volunteers and help us reach more people, faster.”

    Push partners, including the Otoe-Missouria POD volunteers, are trained in all aspects of the planning process and participate in exercises that allow them to demonstrate understanding of dispensing operations. Training and exercises are tracked and documented using the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP). This helps develop a strong professional relationship with partner agencies as well as ensure push partners will be successful.

    The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the American Red Cross and the tribe includes training, exercises and natural disaster assistance.

    “This has been in the works for many years,” American Red Cross State Relations Director/Tribal Relations Lead Chele Rider says. “We are very proud to formalize this partnership, which will provide services for many years to the community members who count on us to be prepared.”

    The tribe has already held training exercises with Payne County Health officials and state health officials at the tribal complex to determine the best practices, logistics and volunteer training in the event the Otoe-Missouria POD is activated.

    Beyond training, the tribe will begin an awareness campaign so that people will be prepared should a biological emergency, such as a flu epidemic, be declared and the POD be activated. These messages will be dispensed through the tribe’s newsletter, website, social media and community alert system. To sign up for the Otoe-Missouria Community alerts visit

    Each year, there is a flu season, but rarely is an area declared to have a flu epidemic. While the POD will help in the case of a declaration of a flu epidemic or other biological event, the best practice is to maintain your family’s vaccinations including getting a flu vaccine each year. To learn more about vaccinations, contact your local Health Department.

    Caption: Representatives from the American Red Cross and the Otoe-Missouria Tribe finalized an agreement for the American Red Cross to provide training and assistance to the tribe in the event of an emergency. Present at the signing were (back row L to R) American Red Cross Disaster Service Phil Oura, American Red Cross Leon Lively, American Red Cross Sound the Alarm Lead Keith Armstrong, American Red Cross Sound the Alarm Lead Callie Armstrong, American Red Cross Senior Disaster Program Manager Serving Oklahoma Johnny Munn, American Red Cross Volunteer & Board Member Bill Presley, American Red Cross State Relations Director/Tribal Relations Lead Chele Rider and American Red Cross Disaster Program Manager Celeste Carpenter; (front row L to R) Otoe-Missouria Tribal Treasurer Courtney Burgess, Otoe-Missouria Emergency Manager James LeClair and Otoe-Missouria Executive Director Michael Gawhega.


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  • Tribe receives Federal Credit Union Charter from NCUA

    By Heather Payne, Otoe-Missouria Public Affairs Office on May 21, 2019

    RED ROCK, Okla. – The National Credit Union Administration granted a federal charter and Share Insurance Fund coverage to the Otoe-Missouria Federal Credit Union on Monday, May 20 at a special ceremony in Red Rock, Oklahoma.

    The Charter was presented in-person by NCUA Board Chairman Rodney E. Hood who traveled from Washington D.C. to present the first charter of 2019 to the tribe. NCUA is the independent federal agency created by the U.S. Congress to regulate, charter and supervise federal credit unions and manages the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund.

    “I congratulate the tribal community for making their vision for this credit union a reality,” says Hood. “This charter supports the President’s plan to perpetuate economic growth and establishes greater opportunity and financial security for individuals and businesses by providing affordable services tailored to meeting the needs of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe, its employees, and its businesses.”

    The Otoe-Missouria FCU will serve the employees and enrolled members of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Indians, located in Red Rock, Oklahoma, including 17 businesses owned by the Tribe.  Their mission is to provide financial services tailored to meet the needs of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Indians, its employees and its businesses.

    “Like most Native American communities, the Red Rock area has always been underbanked,” Otoe-Missouria Chairman John Shotton says. “Access to banking services and credit has been limited. This credit union will open those services to our people. It’s an exciting time.”

    When the credit union opens in late summer, it will offer key financial services for its members, including regular shares, share draft accounts, money market accounts, certificates of deposit, club accounts, auto loans, unsecured loans, share secured loans, payroll deduction, and h

    OMFCU President & CEO Leilani Harpole welcomed the guests to the charter presentation ceremony and acknowledged the effort the tribe had made to achieve this success.ome banking.  Future services planned include debit cards, courtesy pay, mobile banking, and reloadable gift cards.

    “This project has been a long-time coming and I am grateful to everyone who helped us achieve this goal,” Harpole says. “This credit union is the result of the tribe determining what they needed for their community, for their people and for their nation.”

    Harpole says she expects to hire three employees to operate the first branch of the OMFCU, which will be located in the lobby area of the 7C Land & Cattle Steakhouse and 7 Clans Paradise Event Center in Red Rock.

    NCUA has designated Otoe-Missouria FCU as a low-income credit union based on their potential membership.  This special designation allows the credit union the ability to accept non-member deposits, obtain grants and loans from the Community Development Revolving Loan Fund, offer secondary capital accounts, and qualify for exemptions from statutory limits on member business lending.  NCUA’s Office of Credit Union Resources and Expansion will provide ongoing assistance to the new credit union.

    The Otoe-Missouria Development Authority, established in 2006, is sponsoring the new credit union. The mission of OMDA is to serve all Otoe-Missouria Tribal members while assisting the Tribe to become self-sufficient in the operation and development of revenue sources needed to provide for the Tribe's present and future needs.

    NCUA Chairman Rodney Hood (left) with Otoe-Missouria Chairman John Shotton stand in front of the new Otoe-Missouria Federal Credit Union. Chairman Hood presented the tribe with their federal charter at a ceremony on Monday, May 20, 2019.

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  • Youth Become the First Tribal Emergency Response Team Instructors in Nation

    By Heather Payne, Otoe-Missouria Public Information Office on January 15, 2019

    NORMAN, Okla.--Four Otoe-Missouria tribal youth became the first Tribal Teen CERT Team Instructors in the United States this weekend in Norman.  

    CERT teams are Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). They are a national program of volunteers trained in disaster preparedness and emergency response.

    The youth participated in a 20-hour training that taught them how to be instructors for other youth and adults. Upon completion of their training, the youth are now certified to instruct others on the creation of CERT Teams.

    Previously the youth were part of the first Tribal Teen CERT Team also through the Otoe-Missouria Tribe.

    The new Teen CERT Team instructors are Anias Bible, Derek Bible, Michaela Kihega and Breanna Kihega (the Otoe-Missouria Tribal Princess). Their chaperone was Carolee Bible Pratt who also completed the instructor training.

    The instructor training took place at the Norman Fire Department with participation from the Norman Fire Department, Oklahoma County Emergency Management and the Oklahoma City Emergency Management. The training was sponsored by the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security.

    During their previous trainings, the Otoe-Missouria Teen CERT participants learned: how to extinguish small fires; conduct light search and rescue; assist those who are injured; set up medical treatment areas; assist emergency responders; identify and anticipate hazards; reduce fire hazards in the home and workplace; help reduce survivor stress.

    For the last several years the Otoe-Missouria Emergency Manager James LeClair has worked with FEMA to prepare the tribe and the surrounding community for natural and manmade disasters. His efforts have resulted in the establishment of an adult and teen CERT teams.

    “The youth plan on teaching their own TEEN CERT Camp sometime in the future and they would also like to do a leadership camp in participation with other tribes,” LeClair says. “I cannot tell you how proud I am of these kids. They gave up a whole weekend to become Certified CERT instructors.”

    The Otoe-Missouria Teen CERT will also be presenting at the Intertribal Emergency Management Coalition (ITEMC) Summit as well as volunteering their time to help to help at the event.

    For more information about the Otoe-Missouria Teen Cert Team contact James LeClair at 580-723-4466 ext 142.

    The Otoe-Missouria Teen CERT Team became the first Tribal Teen CERT Instructors in the nation during a training over the weekend in Norman. The new certified instructors are (L to R) Michaela Kihega, Derek Bible, Breanna Kihega, chaperone Carolee Bible Pratt and Anias Bible. 

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  • Tribe Opens New Water Treatment Facility; Provides water to rural Oklahomans

    By Heather Payne, OMT Public Information Office on December 6, 2018

    Red Rock, OKLA.--The Otoe-Missouria Tribe held a ribbon cutting on Wednesday, December 5 in Red Rock to officially begin operation of the tribe’s new water treatment facility.

    After years of enduring issues with poor quality water, the tribe created an intense reorganization plan for the utility authority and the water plant in the fall of 2016.  The Tribal Council appointed the Otoe-Missouria Utility Authority Board and the members began reorganization immediately. 

    Municipalities in the area where the tribe is located struggle with plentiful water sources and effective treatment of water. With the completion of this water treatment facility, the tribe will be able to support some of the communities, residences and businesses in the area that previously did not have access to potable water.

    The new water treatment plant is over 6,500 square feet, much larger than the previous 1,000 square foot water treatment facility. The new water cleaning equipment is state-of-the-art and includes a plate settler system.

    Plate settler systems are designed to remove particulates from liquids. They are often employed in primary water treatment in place of conventional settling tanks. Unlike conventional clarifiers they use a series of inclined plates. These inclined plates provide a large effective settling area for a small footprint. The inlet stream is stilled upon entry into the clarifier. Solid particles begin to settle on the plates and begin to accumulate in collection hoppers at the bottom of the clarifier unit. The sludge is drawn off at the bottom of the hoppers and the clarified liquid exits the unit.

    The pilot study for the equipment was completed in the summer of 2016 and demonstrated how well the water was cleaned through this system.

    The previous plant cleaned about between 40-55 gallons per minute depending on the turbidity of the inflowing water. The new plant will clean a maximum capacity of 175 gallons per minute using just one of the two cleaning lines. The two-line system allows for continuous water output on one line while maintenance and cleaning occur on the other line. The cost of the construction was $4.4 million.

    The new facility can be monitored remotely and in-person. At any given time, one of the six staff members of the water treatment plant will be present in the facility to insure high water quality. 

    The tribe worked with many different agencies including the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and the Oklahoma Rural Water Association as well as Bronze Oak who constructed the plant itself and who provided training to the water plant staff.

    The Otoe-Missouria Tribe is located in North Central Oklahoma in Red Rock. There are a currently 3,259 members enrolled in the tribe with the majority living in Oklahoma. The tribe was relocated to Oklahoma in 1881 from its first reservation on the border of Nebraska and Kansas. The tribe currently owns five casinos, two gas stations, two event centers, a hotel, a cattle company, a steakhouse, financial service companies, a propane company and it will open a water park in 2019. 

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