Photo Credit: 
Kiowa Tribe Public Relations
From the left, Kendal Hamilton, Lawton City Manager Michael Cleghorn, Vice Chairwoman Rhonda Ahhaitty, Chairman Matthew Komalty, Lawton City Mayor Stan Booker and Elgin student Bluesky Tosee.
From the left, Kendal Hamilton, Lawton City Manager Michael Cleghorn, Vice Chairwoman Rhonda Ahhaitty, Chairman Matthew Komalty, Lawton City Mayor Stan Booker and Elgin student Bluesky Tosee.

LAWTON — Kiowa tribal members may now receive essential services year-round, thanks to a new Continuity of Operations center tribal leaders officially opened Nov. 13. The center, at 1605 S.W. Lee Blvd in Lawton, was purchased using CARES Act funding made available to the tribe during the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

The COOP center’s sole purpose is to provide uninterrupted essential services amid a crisis. It will provide an alternate site outside of the tribe’s main headquarters in Carnegie. The COOP will assist tribal members (elders) with transportation to and from appointments, act as a dry goods and PPE storage, COVID-19 assistance intake station and act as a command center in times of need.

“This is a much-needed facility in this area of our Kiowa jurisdiction outside of Carnegie,” said Freida Satepeahtaw, COVID-19 Response Program director.“It’s a larger city with more to offer around us. The Lawton area is also home to nearly (800) tribal members. That’s a lot of tribal members in one area.”

Satepeahtaw said it is not known as this time how many workers the COOP will employ. The transportation department plans to offer transit to the public in the near future at a minimal cost. The garage will also offer discount prices for small vehicle maintenance jobs.

Kiowa Tribal Chairman Matthew Komalty addressed the crowd gathered at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new facility, along with Lawton Mayor Stan Booker. Other guests included Michael Cleghorn, Lawton City Manager; Dan Mullins, former property owner; Johnny Owens, Comanche County District 2 Commissioner; Kiowa Black Leggings Warrior Society; Delaware Nation President Deborah Dotson; Lonnie Emhoolah, cedar blessing; and Kendal Hamilton and BlueSky Tosee, who performed the Lord’s Prayer in sign language.