By Angel Ellis, Reporter
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — In a joint statement released Oct. 28, three of Oklahoma’s tribes have clarified their opposition to congressional actions requested by Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt following the McGirt Supreme Court ruling. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation, the Choctaw Nation and the Seminole Nations of Oklahoma are unified in support of tribal reservation status.
MCN Principal Chief David Hill, Chief Gary Batton of the Choctaw Nation and Chief Greg Chilcoat of the Seminole Nation met to announce their unified stance. According to the statement issued to media the respective leaders have agreed to focus ‘on maximizing sovereignty and self-governance, ensuring public safety for all those living in their communities, and capitalizing on economic development opportunities.’
The announcement came after Oklahoma Governor Stitt’s request for congressional actions and conservative organizations like the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) launch a full court press attack on tribal sovereignty.
OCPA President Jonathan Small went on record with the Tulsa World asking congress to disestablish the reservations. That organization has launched a fundraising campaign spread their message in a statewide advertising campaign.
Over the last several weeks sovereignty attacks have looked like the use of EPA opinions to grant the state environmental powers over tribal lands, state AG Mike Hunter requesting congressional delegation to introduce federal law to disestablish the reservation of the MCN and the Governors marketing that request as ‘just a fairness issue,’ in his presser on Oct.22.
In the face of the possible congressional intervention the three leaders issued statements.
MCN Principal Chief David Hill commended his colleagues for standing for sovereignty.
‘I want to commend my fellow leaders for their meaningful stand for sovereignty and for their clear opposition to any and all legislation that would return us to a broken system,’ Hill said. ‘Tribal leaders around the country have uniformly signaled this moment as one that will resonate long after we’re gone.’
‘We owe it to the future and the coming generations to meet this opportunity with our greatest efforts, together.’
Choctaw Chief Gary Batton said he was proud to stand with tribal leaders.
‘I am proud to stand united with my fellow tribal leaders of the Creek and Seminole Nation to state we are in agreement that tribes are an opportunity for Oklahoma, not a problem to be fixed,’ Batton said. ‘The McGirt decision reaffirmed the existence of our reservations.’
‘There is no need for federal legislation when sitting down and working together is the best path forward for tribes and the state.’
He said tribes have been good neighbors and great partners for Oklahoma for hundreds of years, and will continue to be so.
‘If we all work in a unified approach, we can make the McGirt ruling a positive to attract businesses and to provide jobs to everyone while growing our economy,’ Batton said.
Chief Greg Chilcoat was one of the first Chiefs to publicly decry the states attempts to whittle sovereign rights after the McGirt decision. He said that the unification of tribal leaders was important for Oklahoma and all of Indian Country.
‘It is an honor to be united with my fellow tribal leaders in advocating and defending the sovereign rights of not only tribes in Oklahoma, but all of Indian Country,’ Chilcoat said. ‘We stand ready to address any issues following the McGirt ruling through respectful government to government interactions, just as Oklahoma tribes have always done.’
‘However, Congressional involvement is unnecessary and undermines the sovereignty of all tribal nations.’
Mvskoke Media will continue to monitor the topic for developments and make updates as they become available.