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Campaign Trail: Ericca Unap-Dennis meets with constituents in Skiatook

The 2022 Osage Nation General Election is June 6.

SKIATOOK, Okla. – In her first run for Osage Nation Congressional office, Ericca Unap-Dennis met with fellow constituents here at the Osage Casino to discuss her interest in public service.

Unap-Dennis (Hominy District) welcomed friends and family to her April 16 reception in the casino conference room, which is familiar territory for her where she worked as casino event and sales specialist a few years prior.

Christa Unap-Fulkerson, cousin to Unap-Dennis, introduced her at the event. “Our grandmother, Myrtle Morrell Unap, was a full-blood Osage, our grandmother’s wedding was the last pre-arranged marriage within the Osage tribe. I know our grandmother and her sisters would be proud of Ericca for wanting to give back to our people, our grandmother and her sisters were very strong hard-working Osage women, they were all raised on a farm in Osage County where there were hard times. When I think of them, I see strength and determination and that is the same thing I see in Ericca,” Unap-Fulkerson said.

Unap-Dennis is now an executive director for a 150-unit senior living facility in Tulsa where she resides with her family. She discussed her interests in working with elders and how she would use experience, if elected, while serving on Congress.

“Serving my people has always been a life-long dream of mine,” Unap-Dennis said. “I knew that one day that this is where I wanted to be, this is what I wanted to do, this is the time. And what I see for our people is nothing but endless opportunities for economic prosperity, for diversification of our portfolio and the things we do for our people. We are in need of some programs that currently do not exist and what I want to focus on, in my time if elected, is building a better program that does not exist for our elders.”

Ericca Unap-Dennis (right) visits with Osage Minerals Councilwoman Margo Gray (left) during her April 16 Congress candidate announcement reception while Osage Congresswoman Paula Stabler and former Chief Jim Gray listen. BENNY POLACCA/Osage News

Unap-Dennis noted she is “proud of our Constitution and one of the things it emphasizes is care for our elders.” Retirement planning is also on Unap-Dennis’ mind, and she questions how many Osages have a retirement plan in place when they reach that age. “That’s something I would love to be able to be a part of to help lay foundation and groundwork for those possibilities and see where that could go,” she said of various plans which include independent living, assisted living arrangements and healthcare options when needed.

In addition, Unap-Dennis said she is interested in using her professional experiences, strengths and talents “to help collaborate with other members of Congress. I am a firm believer of leading with integrity … for me personally, that means being able to collaborate with any and every person on Congress and the (Principal) Chief’s Office.”

Unap-Dennis said she also supports other Nation initiatives including higher education, culture and language and recalled attending language classes 10-15 years ago in Skiatook, adding she is “very thankful for the opportunities” and for their expansion online to serve more Osages. “Our language and our ways will be preserved for future generations,” she said.

In serving on Congress, Unap-Dennis added: “I would work diligently, and I would be persistent and I would work hard for each and every one of you, you have an invitation to call me anytime and visit with me more … I’m here to be a partner, I’m here to collaborate, I’m here because I will be one voice in 12 to help make a difference for the Nation.”


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Benny Polacca
Benny Polacca started at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter and has covered various stories and events impacting the Osage Nation and Osage people. Polacca is part of the News team awarded the Native American Journalist Association’s Elias Boudinot Free Press Award in 2014 and other NAJA Media Awards and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter awards for news coverage and photography. Polacca is an Arizona State University graduate and participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. He previously worked at The Forum newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. region as the weeknight reporter.

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