My name is Tara Hocker and I am the Director of the Office of Environmental Management. I am a member of the Navajo Nation, Walker-River Paiute, and Washoe Tribe. I am passionate about environmental justice and socioeconomic resilience. I have gained knowledge of the importance of tribal sovereignty, cultural importance of usufructuary rights, and cultural ecological knowledge. In my culture there is esoteric teachings of Mother Earth for a Navajo woman. It is taught at a young age to have reverence and practice “ke,” kinship with our environment by maintaining a spiritual relationship that requires you to acknowledge all four directions and give daily appreciation for basic elements of life. As a youth, I participated in the Native Americans in Biological Sciences Summer Camp at OSU from 1993 to 1996. It was funded by a Howard Hughes grant. I studied ecology, ethnobotany, hydrology & water management, biology, micro-biology, and agricultural science. I’ve worked in science labs under the guidance of scientist’s and conducted DNA tests, water testing, and other testing samples to gather and collect research data. It was a valuable learning experience that made me aware of my environment. I grew up on the Navajo reservation and carried water daily from a near-by stream and by truck filling water barrels from windmills. I lived close to an abandoned uranium mine and became concerned about air, water, soil, and the quality of livestock (sheep, horses, and cattle). I helped my grandparents irrigate alfalfa fields, plant a vegetable & fruit garden, and assisted with the fall harvest. Environmental issues affecting my tribal community inspired me to study Federal Indian Law. It inspired me to make a difference in the management of natural resources and the environment by having knowledge of federal, state, local laws, regulations, codes, policies, and procedures related to environmental management and environmental activities on Ponca Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma tribal land jurisdiction.
I hold a:
• Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law degree
• Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management
• Associate of Applied Science degree in Business
• Associate of Applied Science degree in Secondary Education
• Associate of Applied Science degree in Pre-Education
• Minor in Marketing
I am a:
• Certified Human Resource Technician
• Oklahoma Public Notary
• Certified Child Welfare Specialist
• Two years of work experience working for a non-profit in tribal land management, tribal economic development, agriculture, compliance ensuring permits, licenses, and training were up-to-date.
• I have four years of classroom experience studying biology, physical science, chemistry, and Environmental Law in Indian Country.
My main objectives for the OEM Department are to create a new Environmental Assessment that will give us new data on the environmental compliance of the worst polluters in and near our tribal jurisdiction. We will also consult with the area law firm on updating the Ponca Tribe Environmental Regulatory Act.
Meet our Ponca Princess
My name is Aliayah Danielle Buffalohead. My Indian name is Wi Nazhe Ta Wi meaning Rain given to me by my grandparents. I am an enrolled Ponca Tribal member and am of the Hisada clan. I come from The Buffalohead, Collins, BlueBack, Big Elk, and Giveswater families.
I am 17 years old, a senior at Tonkawa High School, and a member of the National Honor Society. I am also concurrently enrolled at NOC and plan to continue my education with a degree in the medical field. My career focus is to become a Physical Therapist to help our elders and other Native Americans to recover from their injuries. Some of my other accomplishments are lettering in academics for the past 3 years and receiving an award for Outstanding Native American Student.
I want to be a great ambassador for our tribe.
I want to thank the Ponca Princess Sorority and the Ponca Powwow Committee for giving me a chance to represent the Ponca People. This opportunity has been a goal of mine and I will represent to the best of my ability. I pray everyone has a great year, continue to be safe, and protect our children and elders.