KFOR investigates candidate Terry Neese’s claim of having ‘deep roots in the Cherokee Nation’

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Republican politician Terry Neese has previously stated she has “deep roots in the Cherokee Nation,” but her campaign team admitted on Friday that Neese isn’t Cherokee Indian after KFOR set out to investigate.

First, KFOR reached out to the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah, providing both Terry Neese’s maiden name and married name. The tribe also requested her date of birth so they could search their archives.

After the search, the Cherokee Nation’s Communications Department provided KFOR the following statement:

“We do not have any Cherokee Nation citizens by those names and DOB in our registration database.”

There are two other federally recognized Cherokee tribes in the United States, so we reached out to both of them as well.

The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, also in Tahlequah, responded with “Our secretary has checked our rolls and the individual is not found either by DOB or by name.”

Cherokee Nation

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina tells KFOR, “This person is not enrolled with our tribe. I searched for all of the names and the DOB and nothing matched to any of our members.”

KFOR also obtained a resume Neese reportedly submitted to a Congressional House Committee. Seen at the bottom right hand column is a bullet point listing “Native American Heritage – (Cherokee Indian).”

In the early 1990s, President George H. W. Bush appointed Neese as a Commissioner to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education. All 15 members must be Native American.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton reappointed her.

We also uncovered an article from around the time President Bush nominated Neese to the lead the U.S. Mint. In it, the author writes of Neese, saying, “she says her roots to the Cherokee Indian Community run deep”.

Earlier this year, Senator Elizabeth Warren apologized to the Cherokee Nation after writing she was “American Indian” on a 1986 registration card for the State Bar of Texas.

Just this week, old training tapes surfaced in which a woman, who identifies herself as Neese, coaches her employees on how to lie to their clients.

“You must manipulate people 24 hours a day,” the woman on the recording stated.

The clients were Oklahomans who were desperate for jobs.

The tapes were a topic of conversation at a debate between Neese and her rival in next week’s runoff, State Senator Stephanie Bice.

When asked about the tapes, Neese accused Bice of leaking them to KFOR.

“It is you, Stephanie,” Neese said. “I know the truth.”

“This is false,” State Senator Stephanie Bice said.

“No it’s not,” Neese said.

“I have nothing to do with the tapes,” Senator Bice said.

“Neither do I!” Neese said. “It’s anonymous. I have no idea where it’s coming from.”

“Just to clarify that was you on the tapes?” the moderator asked.

“I haven’t listened to the tapes,” Neese said.

KFOR has spent two days trying to get an interview with Terry Neese. We have been in communication with her representatives, telling them we specifically wanted to discuss Neese’s claims of “Native American heritage.”

Late Friday night, the Neese campaign sent KFOR this statement:

“Terry is not a Cherokee Indian, but she did share a deep heritage with their community during her appointment to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education.”

Matt Langston, campaign spokesman

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