By Amy Howe
The Eastern Shawnee Tribe is one of three federally recognized tribes, all located in Oklahoma. Leading the Eastern Shawnee Tribe is Glenna Wallace, the first elected female chief to ever serve. This is one of many firsts for Glenna. She was the first female in her family to graduate high school, the first female in her family to go to college and graduate and the first female in her area to form investment clubs for other females to learn about the stock market, among many other firsts.
Glenna didn’t set out to be the first female in the many things she’s achieved, everything just seemed to end up that way for her.
“I am proud of being the first female ever elected chief in my tribe, but I am even more proud of the fact that I have been reelected three additional times,” said Glenna.
Glenna has broken any barrier that stood to prove females can be effective leaders. “It is not whether you are male or female, it is whether you are a hard worker and have a good work ethic, whether you are persistent, compassionate, able to make decisions and fair to everything. That is who makes an effective chief,” said Glenna.
The Eastern Shawnee Tribe is a big supporter of the Seneca community and is forever grateful the community has helped the tribe for many years. The Eastern Shawnee Tribe is located in Oklahoma and has been since 1832. Today, they have two tribal locations, a larger location on Highway 10 C and the original location adjacent to the town of Seneca with a Seneca, Missouri, mailing address. To reach this tribal location, you have to leave Oklahoma, enter into Missouri, go to the little town of Seneca, then reenter Oklahoma. The tribe has consistently been dependent on the roads in Seneca for access to their location. Not only did they use the roads but also the water, sewer and natural gas.
“The Seneca Fire Department, ambulance service and police assistance were invaluable to us in our beginning days, prior to bingo and casinos,” said Glenna. “Today, with our large casino Indigo Sky being located just outside of Seneca on Highway 60, we still use their sewer, we still use their roads and many of our employees and our customers are from the community. We are acutely aware of how Seneca has helped us, and we are grateful. Now we are able to give back, not just to Seneca but to our entire area.”
Something you may not know is that almost all of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe services are available to everyone, not just tribal citizens or Native Americans. Their senior center provides daily lunch Monday through Friday and is open to everyone over the age of 60. Tribal citizens eat free with all others paying a nominal fee for a complete meal. The same is true for the Early Childhood Leaning Center, which is open to all children. In the summer time, the tribe hosts its annual Children’s Back to School Powwow where they give 700 or more free backpacks complete with school supplies and is open to everyone.
The tribe also has a state-of-the-art wellness center that is open to everyone. Membership fees are extremely reasonable. Additionally, there are six miles of walking trails free for everyone to use.
The Eastern Shawnee Tribe is extremely generous with their amenities, many of which aren’t listed but can easily be found online.
This past year, the tribe made three major contributions, two to Seneca and one to the rural water district. Part of the funds that were contributed to the City of Seneca were to complete a new fire station facility.
“We have tribal citizens who live in Seneca, we have employees who live in Seneca and we have patrons living in the Seneca area who have supported our businesses for years and, of course, we have Indigo Sky just outside of Seneca, all probably needing fire assistance at some point,” said Glenna. “We donated the funds to finish this fire station and are thankful that we have grown to the point that we can give back to the entire community.”
Same is true for the Seneca Police Department. The tribe knows the number of people coming to Indigo Sky creates a challenge to the Seneca Police Department and a donation was made to them to purchase new police vehicles and remodel and build additions to their facility. “We are simply paying back and paying forward for services and help given to us by the police department,” said Glenna.
The Eastern Shawnee Tribe is indebted to their ancestors who persevered and make it possible for them to live the lives they live today. “We honor our ancestors,” said Glenna. “We have been blessed spiritually and financially. Native Americans are giving people. We gather together, help each other, care about each other, strengthen each other, thus becoming stronger ourselves. Others have helped us reach where we are today, and it is only appropriate that we share and give back to others.”