OKLAHOMA CITY – Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief David Hill attended Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt’s State of the State address at the capitol building.
Though thankful for the invitation from House Speaker Charles McCall, Hill expressed his disappointment with Stitt’s message.
Prior to the address, Hill drove home his willingness to listen for any change of heart from the Governor’s harmful rhetoric regarding tribes.
“As I listened, I heard Oklahoma’s governor again use tragedy and fear-mongering for his own gain. Even worse, he made up a story using the tragic case of a child who was killed,” Hill stated.
The case referenced is that of Richard Roth, who the Governor claims could be released due to the reservation affirmation made by the U.S. Supreme Court in summer 2020.
A Wagoner County District Court jury found Roth guilty of first degree manslaughter and leaving the scene of a crime in October 2014.
Hill called the fear tactics inappropriate in a written statement.
‘It is not appropriate for Gov. Stitt to continually oversimplify cases to sow fear and confusion,’ he said. ‘What is simple is that Roth remains in State custody.’
Hill said the case was more complex.
“Because of the State’s repeated failure to timely file appellate-required pleadings over a number of years, this case will be affected by the Supreme Court’s upcoming consideration of concurrent jurisdiction related to McGirt. However, it is not accurate to say that if the Supreme Court decides one way or another, that Roth will remain in custody or be released.”
According to Hill’s statement, “the outcome would mean that either Roth stays in state custody or the federal government could pursue statute-of-limitations options to allow for his re-prosecution.”
Hill’s statement further condemned Stitt’s fear tactics.
“The Governor continues to throw himself down kicking and screaming in the path to implement McGirt. His fear-mongering and lies serve no one who lives in the State of Oklahoma.”
In recent months, MCN, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole Nations rescinded their support of Stitt as Oklahoma’s governor after enduring years of litigation defending laws.
Early in Sitt’s term his Indigenous relationships began to crumble as he took on tribal gaming and lost. Now tribal leaders are critical of his ability to lead a state home to 39 federally recognized tribes.