House subcommittee approves Texas-Oklahoma boundary agreement

Wednesday, October 27th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The battle over the southern boundary between Oklahoma and Texas is a step closer to being resolved in Congress.

But two congressmen want the states to address the concerns raised by Indians tribes that own land along the river.

The House subcommittee on commercial and administrative law gave its consent on a voice vote Tuesday to the Red River Boundary
Compact, which defines the state boundary as the vegetation line of the Red River's south bank.

Congress is expected to approve the agreement that has already been agreed to by both states' legislatures and governors.

Reps. George Gekas, R-Pa., and Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the chairman and ranking member of the judiciary panel, urged the
states to address concerns raised by the Kiowa, Apache and Comanche tribes that own thousands of acres along the river.

Tribal leaders sent a letter to Gekas saying they are worried about potential disputes if their land becomes part of a different state jurisdiction, the Dallas Morning News reported Wednesday.

But Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon, sponsor of a House resolution to ratify the compact, and Rep. Max Sandlin, D-Marshall,
told the panel the compact does not affect the sovereign rights of federally recognized tribes.

"This act is just to set a boundary," Sandlin said of the deal which took eight years to put together. "It's not something to change ownership."

The border issue dates back to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, before Texas and Oklahoma joined the union. The U.S. Supreme Court
has tried twice to settle the dispute.

Supporters of the compact say using the vegetation line makes sense to define the boundary, which has moved historically when the river moved. State officials say it has been difficult to draw a line that can be easily used by law enforcement officers and tax
collectors to determine jurisdictions.