Five Tribes Call For More Negotiation After McGirt Ruling

Monday, July 20th 2020, 6:12 pm
By: Amelia Mugavero


The Five Civilized Tribes said they are taking a step back to have more discussions on the best way to move forward after the McGirt Ruling.

This comes after Attorney General Mike Hunter proposed an agreement to discuss how Oklahoma prosecutes criminal cases involving tribal members. ​Protestors stood in front of the Cherokee headquarters and demanded the people be included in the tribes' discussions with the state. Now the tribes are putting on the brakes on this agreement.

News on 6 spoke to Jeff Wacoche, who is a member of the United Keetoowah Band. He was among the group of protestors at the headquarters, and said his tribe, as well as the other small tribes, should be included in the conversation. 

“There’s three other federally recognized tribes in this area that should have a said in what we’re going do and these here lands also," Wacoche explained. 

“It is an agreement to keep things the same, so to speak, and in doing so you’re giving away the newly recognized and reestablished reservation of Cherokee nation," Tribal counselor Wes Nofire said. 

Chief Chuck Hoskin Junior supported the agreement last week. He said the agreement is not erasing the Supreme Court "McGirt vs. Oklahoma" ruling.

“It’s important for people to remember that it was a beginning, not an end. It was never a piece of legislation, it was how do we get involved in the discussion,” Chief Hoskin said.

The Five Civilized Tribes released a statement that said in part: 

“Upon further reflection, and after obtaining feedback from the people we represent, leaders of the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations agree that more discussion is warranted with stakeholders and the general public.”

Chief Hoskin said his intent is to listen and make sure the Cherokee Nation is represented in Congress.

"My role as Principal Chief is not to sit with my eyes closed, my hands over my ears and hope that Congress doesn’t do any injury to the Cherokee nation,” Hoskin said. 

Councilman Nofire said he is working on a piece of legislation that would require Chief Hoskin to include the tribal council in any future discussions with the state.

Governor Kevin Stitt created a commission to make recommendations on issues connected to the McGirt Case. 

The commission will advise the Governor on civil, criminal, and regulatory concerns, and will be composed of leaders from various spheres including law, government and business. Gov. Stitt has named Larry Nichols, co-founder of Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy, as chair of the commission. Other members include former U.S. Sen. Don Nichols, former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts, Oklahoma Sen. Julie Daniels, Oklahoma Rep. Mark Lepak, Alan Armstrong, Brent Bolen, Suzie Brewster, Harold Hamm and Joe Robson.

Additional members may also include a representative of the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office, a member of the District Attorneys Council and representatives of Oklahoma’s federally recognized Indian Tribes.

Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and James Lankford (R-OK) and Representatives Frank Lucas (OK-03), Tom Cole (OK-04), Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), Kevin Hern (OK-O1) and Kendra Horn (OK-05) today released the following joint congressional delegation statement regarding the ongoing negotiation between Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter and Tribal Nations on a proposal to Congress following the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in McGirt v. Oklahoma:

“Following the McGirt decision, we appreciate the essential input and recommendations of Tribal Nations and the Oklahoma Attorney General on how all Oklahomans can cooperate together in the days ahead. Many legal questions remain that will require clarifying legislation. We look forward to working with the Tribal Nations, the state, and all stakeholders, to develop a legislative framework that honors tribal sovereignty and gives consistency and predictability to all those living and working in Oklahoma. While there are valid questions and concerns that have caused confusion for individuals, business, and law enforcement, we expect federal legislation to provide greater clarity for everyone. We all want and expect our state to be safe and prosperous. Working together as neighbors, we will accomplish this enormous task together.”