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United Methodist elected leader of Seminole Nation

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Enoch Kelly Haney
July 13, 2005

By the Rev David Wilson*

OKALAHOMA CITY (UMNS)--A Native American United Methodist and former state senator has been elected Principal Chief of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma.

Enoch Kelly Haney, won an historic election on July 9 by defeating four other candidates for the office of the 14,000-member tribe, gaining over 60 percent of the total votes. The race was historic because no candidate has ever received a majority vote without having a run-off, according to Haney.

"I think the people were ready for a change," he said the day after the election. "I am so thankful to people who felt like there needed to be a change in this tribal government," he said.

"I am humbled and honored by my support base," he added.

Haney said an unusual number of young people voted in the Seminole elections this year. At one of his campaign forums, 92 young persons attended.

"The young persons made some really good recommendations, many which deal with education," he said. "I am looking forward to implementing several of their recommendations dealing with education."

Haney grew up at the Seminole Hitchitee United Methodist Church, which celebrated its' 149th anniversary this spring. His grandfather was the first Methodist in his family and later went on to become a Methodist minister. Haney's father, Woodrow, also became a Methodist minister.

Haney followed in his father's footsteps and served for one year as a local pastor in the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference and also served as director of youth ministries for two years.

"What sustains what I do is the belief that I am here for a purpose," he said. "That purpose for me has always been public service. It started with ministry, but I believe it has been God's purpose to put me in public service."

"I have been able to provide service to all people throughout the state and now I will be leading people in Seminole nation," he said. "God makes these things possible in God's time."

The Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference, which is comprised of 89 Native American United Methodist Churches in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. Haney is currently an active member of Norman First American United Methodist Church in Norman, Oklahoma.

Haney will be the fourth United Methodist to serve as chief and tribal leader in the state of Oklahoma. His inauguration is Sept. 3.

* Wilson is the superintendent of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference.

News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or

Audio Interview with Enoch Kelly Haney

"We want to be proud of who we are as Seminoles."

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