By Kathleen Swift • Photos by Mandy Edmonson

The Eastern Shawnee Tribe, its business committee and Chief Glenna Wallace have worked successfully over the years to build their community and a relationship with the City of Seneca. As they look to the new year and their connection with the City of Seneca, that dynamic work continues.

Chief Glenna explained, “We are thankful for the support Seneca has shown us throughout the years. City officials have made it possible for us to share city utilities such as water and sewer, and community members have been supportive of our businesses, including our shooting range, travel center, print shop and, of course, our casinos, Indigo Sky and Outpost. The Eastern Shawnee Tribe and the City of Seneca try to work together whenever we can for the benefit of both communities. Recently, as an expression of the tribe’s appreciation for the community support extended to us throughout the years, the Eastern Shawnee Tribe donated $100,000 to the Seneca Police Department and $253,000 to complete the new fire station on Business Highway 60, just east of Seneca Dairy Queen.

“Support has been extended to our service centers such as our Agency on Aging, where elders over the age of 60 are served 100 to 150 meals daily, our Wellness Center where we have between 500 and 1,000 visitors weekly, and our Early Childhood Learning Center, which we began five years ago serving 20 children six weeks to five years of age. Today, our enrollment surpasses 100 children. And, we can’t forget our majority ownership in People’s Bank of Seneca. Originating in this small town, we have expanded to four locations with a fifth expansion underway in Neosho. People’s Bank of Seneca is known for its business savvy, dedicated employees and community service.

“Within the last 15 years, thanks to dedicated business committee members and committed employees, our Eastern Shawnee Tribe has seen the addition of nine duplexes for elders, the completion of 11 new tribal buildings or additions, two casinos, road construction, a host of grants funded, new programs initiated, including a Shawnee language program, and land holdings growing from approximately 400 acres to more than 2,500,” continued Chief Wallace.

Currently, the Eastern Shawnee Tribe plans to add approximately 20 new homes at its Housing Authority, which is located south of 695 Road on Highway 10C near Outpost Casino. Additionally, a new site, appropriately named Natives Connected, will showcase all of the nine federally recognized tribes in Oklahoma’s Ottawa County and is scheduled to open in the spring.

“Ottawa County is unique in that we are the only place in the entire United States to have nine federally recognized tribes in one small county,” said Chief Wallace. “Some tribes were forced to remove to this area immediately following the passage of the Indian Removal Act in 1830 and others followed after the Civil War. Natives Connected, located on Highway 60 between the roundabout and Indigo Sky, will be a place for people to learn our history through videos, stories and displays created by each of the nine tribes.”

The Eastern Shawnee Tribe has supported the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks, whose annual fundraiser has been held at Indigo Sky Casino for the last several years. This year marked a special occasion: Chief Wallace, a three-time cancer survivor, was surprised with a portrait of herself from local artist Doug Hall. Hall is known for his portrayal of Eastern Woodland tribe members in his nationally recognized paintings.

“I was speechless,” she said, “and I am never speechless! It’s a marvelous painting. Doug has generously donated a painting each year for our auction for the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks, and I was shocked to see myself portrayed in my regalia. I had teased Doug in years past that his paintings of warriors were wonderful but reminded him our tribe did have women and children, too. I never expected to be a woman he portrayed. It is a marvelous gift.”

You can see a giclee of Chief Wallace’s portrait along with other Doug Hall works at Indigo Sky Casino.