Wyandotte Nation opens new SONIC in Seneca

Chief Billy Friend speaks during the smoking ceremony Monday at the grand opening of the SONIC Drive-In in Seneca, Mo. (William Swaim/Wyandotte Nation)

Chief Billy Friend speaks during the smoking ceremony Monday at the grand opening of the SONIC Drive-In in Seneca, Mo. (William Swaim/Wyandotte Nation)

The Wyandotte Nation opened the doors to its new SONIC Drive-In located in Seneca, Mo., Monday, Nov. 18. Seneca is located about 10 miles from Wyandotte, Okla., where the Tribe is headquartered.

“We’re very excited about the opening. It’s been much anticipated,” said Wyandotte Nation Chief Billy Friend. “We believe it will be another great economic development for the Tribe and we look forward to generating profits that can go back to benefit tribal citizens.”

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A pipe ceremony and ribbon cutting marked the opening for the SONIC Drive-In, 2314 Cherokee Ave. (on Hwy 43 and just off of Hwy 60). The opening marks the first for a Native American tribe in the SONIC system.

“We want to welcome Chief Friend and the Wyandotte Nation to Seneca,” said Seneca Chamber of Commerce President Josh Dodson. “We are so thankful, because this is a mission the chamber has set forth for a while to bring more businesses to town. And we are thankful they are here with us today and we are able to be a part of the ribbon cutting and smoking ceremony. We know this will be a great asset to the community.”

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The smoking ceremony is sacred for the Wyandotte Nation. In the pipe was tobacco, sage, sweet grass and cedar, which is all sacred to the Wyandotte people.

“We believe as we pray, as the smoke goes up to the Creator, the smoke carries our words to the Creator and creates a pathway for the Creator to speak to our hearts,” the Chief said during the opening ceremony.

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Oklahoma City-based SONIC Corp. is the nation’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants with more than 3,500 corporate and franchise stores.

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The Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma (WTOK), the Wyandotte Nation’s federally chartered corporation, drives economic development for the Tribe. The SONIC Drive-In is the latest in the Tribe’s continued push for economic diversification.

“It creates another direction, another diversified enterprise for the Wyandotte Nation,” said WTOK CEO Kelly Carpino. “We’re excited about that. It gives us a lot of growth opportunity to potentially develop additional restaurants in the future.”

The WTOK business enterprises include telecommunications, IT, food service, precision manufacturing and the entertainment industry. The Tribe’s economic development supports various programs for tribal citizens, including healthcare, housing, and education programs.

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