Collinsville Tag Office Removes Controversial Tribal Tag Sign
COLLINSVILLE, Oklahoma - A Collinsville tag agency removed a sign from its building Monday after receiving criticism online.
The sign read, “Cherokee Customers: This Tag Agency is for State of Oklahoma taxpayers. Your tag office is on Main Street by the Sonic.”
Facebook user Coowesta Sunday-Timmerman posted a picture of the sign to her Facebook page on July 22.
She condemned the sign for insinuating that Cherokee Nation tribal members aren't tax-paying citizens.
"Last I checked we payed Oklahoma taxes," Sunday-Timmerman posted.
CN citizens pay taxes on local, state and federal levels, and tribal sovereignty applies to the CN as a government.
Individual CN citizens cannot claim to be sovereign.
Collinsville Tag Office Owner Pam Porter said the sign was put up to inform Cherokee customers that they did not sell tribal tags at their office.
Employees removed the sign at 8:48 a.m. Monday, Porter said.
Signage addressing the tribal tag issue has been in the tag office since the CN created its own tag office in 2006, Porter said in a statement.
"This was done to let the people wanting Cherokee tags know we are not the correct office," she said.
Porter's office received an average of about 50 people coming into the office weekly and about 150 phone calls weekly, so it was easier to create a sign, Porter said.
"We have been screamed at, cursed and called names while we were still trying to explain we could not help them and advised where they needed to go," Porter said.
The current sign had been hanging inside the tag agency since 2011, Porter said.
"We never had a complaint about this sign until this incident," Porter said, claiming that the person who posted the picture initially was from out of town.
She said had that person addressed the issue with them there, the sign would have been removed.
"I am sorry that the wording on the sign offended anyone," Porter said, adding that the sign specifically addressed Cherokee customers because that was the only tribe with an office in Collinsville.
In response to the sign being taken down, Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden released a statement saying:
"All races in this country, including Native Americans, have worked hard to get to a place of respect and equality and this sign was tremendously offensive to the Cherokee Nation and the Cherokee people. It suggests that our citizens are not taxpayers, when in fact 38 percent of the sale of tribal car tags, which was $5 million this year, goes to support 107 public school districts in this state, and many of our tribal citizens purchase Oklahoma car tags. The sign's tone of 'your tag office' also evokes an attitude of inequality which is very sad to see in today's time. We're pleased to see that the sign was taken down and hope this is a teachable moment for the community."