By Amy Howe
The Quapaw Nation, deeply rooted in the central United States, has a rich history of cooperation with the surrounding communities. That history extends through several centuries, nations and a few states, including Northeast Oklahoma since 1833, when a treaty moved them to their final home. The hospitable relationship between the tribe and its neighbors reflects a commitment to shared prosperity, cultural preservation, and environmental stewardship.
Once a tribe that faced much adversity, the Quapaw Nation is looking forward to a bright future, not only for tribal members but for the community as a whole.
One of the most striking aspects of the Quapaw Nation’s engagement with neighboring communities is its commitment to open communication and dialogue. It’s likely you won’t find a relationship like this anywhere else. Tribal leaders actively participate in community meetings, attend town halls and engage in discussions to understand the concerns and aspirations of their neighbors. This approach fosters a sense of unity and trust, creating a spirit of collaboration.
The Quapaw Nation also extends its support to emergency response and disaster relief efforts through the Department of Public Safety through its Marshal Service, Fire/EMS and Emergency Management programs, something the tribe is proud of supporting. In times of crisis, it collaborates with neighboring communities to provide assistance, resources and manpower to citizens in Ottawa County. This collective response to adversity demonstrates the tribe’s commitment to being a good neighbor and reinforces the resilience of the entire region. The Quapaw Nation also operates a tribal court system, which provides crucial judicial services to citizens. The tribe funds and operates these programs.
Honoring the Land and the People
The Quapaw Nation’s commitment to environmental sustainability is evident through its cooperative efforts with nearby communities, as well as state and federal agencies. Tribal members engage in conservation programs, promote renewable energy initiatives and practice responsible land management. The tribe was the first to lead a cleanup effort through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program. The land, which was once part of the world’s largest source for lead and zinc, was contaminated after decades of mining and milling activities. The tribe excavated and disposed of 108,000 tons of mining waste.
“This is the 10th anniversary to celebrate the Quapaw Nation’s lead of the remediation work,” said Craig Kreman, environmental director for the Quapaw Nation. “The tribe had a vested interest in the land they were cleaning up. A lot of it is Quapaw land. It’s the tribe’s in trust, or its individual members or families.”
Education also plays a pivotal role in the Quapaw Nation’s efforts to improve the quality of life in the region. The tribe has established partnerships with local schools and educational institutions to provide resources and support for students from tribal and non-tribal backgrounds. This not only enhances the educational opportunities for all but also promotes cultural exchange, helping non-tribal students gain a deeper understanding of the tribe’s history and traditions.
Healthcare accessibility is another crucial aspect of the Quapaw Nation’s dedication to their neighbors. They contribute funds to the healthcare clinics in the area that offer comprehensive medical services to tribal members and the broader community. By providing quality healthcare facilities and services, they play a role in the overall well-being and health of the region’s residents, ensuring that medical care is readily available to all, regardless of their background.
As rising food costs impact family budgets, the Quapaw Nation Food Sovereignty Department has taken on a new importance. Its mission is to exercise the Nation’s right to produce food while working toward agricultural self-sufficiency and improving the health outcomes of tribal members. The goal is to create a sustainable system that maximizes self-reliance through farm-to-table initiatives. The Quapaw Farmers Market and Food Hub, which are open to the public, increase community access to fresh, healthy foods and build economic growth. Other enterprises include greenhouses, beehives, row crops, a coffee roasting facility, the first tribally-owned meat processing plant, as well as a cattle and bison operation.
Through an inclusive and cooperative approach Quapaw Nation members have preserved their cultural heritage and enriched the lives of their neighbors, setting an inspiring example for other communities to follow. The tribe’s legacy of unity and collaboration continues to make a positive impact on the region, ensuring a brighter future for all who call it home.
Additional services provided by the Quapaw Nation:
Quapaw Nation Tribal Member Services
Quapaw Tribal Library
Quapaw Tribal Museum
Child Care Development Fund
O-Gah-Pah Learning Center
Farmer’s Market & Food Hub