John Berrey has served as chairman of the Quapaw Tribe since 2001 and was re-elected to another term in a July 2018 election. Photo: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs

Welcome to the Quapaw Nation: Tribal voters approve name change

Citizens of the Quapaw Tribe didn't just re-elect their longtime leader when they went to the polls last month, they chose a new way to refer to themselves.

Going forward, the tribe will be known as the Quapaw Nation. The change was approved by a vote of 456 to 314, according to the official results from the July 28 election.

"We are working through the deadlines to implement the new name, Quapaw Nation," Chairman John Berrey told Indianz.Com on Monday. "I’m happy because it’s the will of the majority that voted."

Berrey doesn't anticipate major changes with the new name, which still comes from O-Gah-Pah, the Quapaw word for "downstream people."

"It won’t have any effect on our businesses or contracts," Berrey said. "It may cost a little to get new stuff printed.”

The election also saw Berrey return to the chairman's post for another two-year term. He defeated Robert Weaver, who is known as being the Trump administration's failed nominee to lead the Indian Health Service, by a vote of 449 to 350, according to the results.

Berrey has led the tribe for a record 17 years. During that time, the Quapaws opened a unique gaming resort that boasts a footprint in Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri, settled a breach of trust lawsuit against the federal government, filed another lawsuit in hopes of securing unaccounted funds and resources, won approval to expand its casino into Kansas, advanced cleanup efforts on the worst Superfund site in the nation and began to restore its homelands in neighboring Arkansas.

In addition to re-electing Berrey, Quapaw voters returned Tamara Smiley Reeves to the Secretary/Treasurer post. She defeated Solomon Jones by a vote of 432 to 368.

But another incumbent, Ranny McWatters, saw defeat as Lloyd Buffalo won a seat as a member of the tribe's business committee. Buffalo won by a vote of 406 to 392.

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