OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma – Tribal nations were allocated $62 million in the U.S. Congress spending bill that was announced on Wednesday March 9. The bill will help improve the criminal justice systems and assist in the overload of cases caused by the landmark McGirt Decision.
Originally, four Oklahoma delegates requested $308 million in federal funding from the House Appropriations Committee in letters dating January 19.
“The result of the Supreme Court case has created a severe shortage of police and investigative personnel in tribal jurisdiction areas, which in turn has drastically increased federal and tribal law enforcement responsibilities,” the Oklahomans wrote.
Reps. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City; Tom Cole, R-Moore; Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne; and Markwayne Mullin, R-Westville, signed the letters. Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Tulsa wrote a separate letter on Dec. 2 requesting more funding with no specified amount of funding.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs was to consult with tribes and submit a request for allocating the money as directed Congress.
Although the funding has fallen short of the original request by Oklahoma’s Congressional delegates, tribes are appreciative of Congress for aid and overall support of the McGirt decision.
The Appropriations Committee said the agreement reached on funding for the Justice Department appropriately funds the U.S. Attorney’s offices, United States Marshals Service, DEA, and FBI workload increases resulting from the McGirt v. Oklahoma decision for fiscal year 2022.
Principal Chief David Hill released a statement saying the Muscogee (Creek) Nation is encouraged by the actions of Congress on that Wed. for the reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act and support of tribes implementing the U.S. Supreme Court’s “sovereignty-affirming McGirt ruling”.
VAWA will provide important tools to help tribal nations throughout the U.S. pursue justice and provide support to Indian women who are victims of violent crimes or domestic abuse committed by non-Indians.
“We continue to make significant investments to expand our criminal justice infrastructure to fully implement McGirt as it adds more safety, security and judicial reponose for all. We welcome Congress’ recognition that decades of illegal actions by the State of Oklahoma have created the need to expand tribal capacity and are grateful for the addition of vital funding to support these efforts as an extension of the federal government’s trust authority and responsibilities to tribal nations.
“We are thankful to Oklahoma’s delegation for their leadership on these important issues that deliver benefits to tribal citizens and everyone who lives in Oklahoma.” –Principal Chief David Hill
The House Appropriations Committee approved a bill last year that included $70 million to boost funding for the state’s three U.S. attorney offices, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the U.S. Marshal’s Service.
However, the spending bill for the Interior Department, which included the Bureau of Indian Affairs, added only $10 million for tribes to ramp up their criminal justice systems.