Preserving the future of our past

The Wyandotte Nation is a federally recognized Native American tribe headquartered in Wyandotte, Okla. The Tribe has nearly 6,000 tribal members nationwide.

The Wyandotte Nation was instrumental in the founding of Detroit, Mich., and Kansas City, Kansas. At one time Kansas City was named Wyandotte City.

The Wyandotte Nation operates according to a 1999 constitution and by-laws, governed by a committee comprised of a chief, second chief and four councilpersons. The committee is currently comprised of Chief Billy Friend, Second Chief Norman Hildebrand, Jr., and councilpersons Ramona Reid, Vivian Fink, Juanita McQuistion and Eric Lofland.

In 1983, Leaford Bearskin was elected Chief. He had a vision and determined purpose for his people. Under his leadership, the Wyandotte Nation grew to almost 5,000 members, secured the Tribe’s right of self-governance, initiated cultural renewal, and achieved economic growth unlike any other time in the Tribe’s history. The growth has continued in recent years under the leadership of Chief Friend, who replaced Bearskin after he passed away November 2012.

Under Chief Friend’s leadership, the Wyandotte Nation has grown close to 6,000 tribal members. The Tribe also built the Lost Creek Recycling Center in Wyandotte, its recent Heritage Acres Community Center and a Splash Pad – all of which serve the entire community. In addition, plans are in the works for constructing a Cultural Center & Museum.

Chief Friend also helped establish an Internship Program to give youth tribal members an opportunity for real world work experience at both the Wyandotte Nation and WTOK.

(Photo by William Swaim, Communications Specialist, Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma/Wyandotte Nation)

At the end of the summer, the interns also take a trip to visit some of their home lands and learn more about the history of the Tribe in Canada, Michigan, Ohio and Kansas.

The Wyandotte Nation operates its own Tribal Police Department and Tribal Court, as well as the Bearskin Healthcare & Wellness Center. The police department is unique in that it is the only tribal department in the U.S. that provides a non-tribal community with their sole source of police services. Officers are both tribal and municipal police officers, and employees of both the Wyandotte Nation and for the Town of Wyandotte.

For more information about the Tribe, its history and culture, visit

The Turtle is the symbol for the Wyandotte Nation

  • The Turtle: Signifies the Tribe’s ancient belief the world was created on the back of a snapping turtle, also known as the “moss-back turtle.”
  • Willow Branches: Because of its resilience after winter or famine, the Tribe’s ancestors believed the willow tree signified the perpetual renewal of life.
  • War Club and Peace Pipe: Shows that the Tribe is ready for war or peace at any given moment.
  • Council Fire: Many tribes of the Northeast looked upon the Tribe for leadership and advice, when they came together for council, the Tribe often hosted and presided over the councils and are considered “Keepers of the Council Fire.”
  • Points of the Shield: Represent each of the Tribe’s 12 clans -- Big Turtle, Little Turtle, Mud Turtle, Wolf, Bear, Beaver, Deer, Porcupine, Striped Turtle, Highland Turtle, Snake and Hawk.