Tag Compact Negotiations Ongoing Between Cherokee Nation, State Of Oklahoma

The Cherokee Nation and the State continue negotiations on a tribal tag compact, with an end-of-the-year deadline when the current one expires.

Friday, June 7th 2024, 5:27 pm

By: Emory Bryan, News On 6


The Cherokee Nation and the State continue negotiations on a tribal tag compact, with an end-of-the-year deadline when the current one expires.

Cherokee Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. says he was encouraged by what he called “good faith negotiations” by the state, but said several elements of what the State has proposed are unlikely to be accepted by Cherokees.

One element of a proposed compact would have the state manufacturing tags, while the Cherokees do that now.

“Turning over the processing of tags and the issuance of titles to the State of Oklahoma to essentially do it for us is not what the Cherokee people expect,” said Hoskin. The Cherokees are the only tribe in Oklahoma manufacturing its own tags.

The proposed compact language distributed by Governor Kevin Stitt’s office has the State, through its own licensed operators only, distributing tags, while the State would collect and distribute the revenue.

The Cherokees have their own network of tag offices inside their 14-county reservation area. If the compact doesn’t renew, that’s the only place where Cherokees could register vehicles, and only if they live within the boundaries of the Nation.

Currently, the Cherokee Nation hosts a luncheon to distribute millions of dollars to schools that it collects through vehicle registrations, while the proposed terms would have funds distributed through a state formula. The tribal tags and non-tribal tags would still cost the same.

While Chief Hoskin said he was encouraged by the State negotiations, he said the Governor is incorrectly saying tribal tag information is not available to law enforcement. It is, however, not available to the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, for collection through the Plate Pay system.

Plate Pay was launched long after the last compact was signed. Drivers with Cherokee and many other tribal tags, or paper tags, are not billed when driving on the Oklahoma Turnpike system unless they also have a Pike Pass.

The Governor’s office says millions of dollars in unpaid tolls have accrued because tribes aren’t releasing the information. Law enforcement uses a different system that does access tribal tag registrations.

“The Governor does have a problem of his own making with this whole Plate Pay mess, but we didn't cause that,” said Hoskin, “We can talk about that in terms of the negotiations or part of some larger policy, but we can't, it seems to me, cede authority to the State to solve a problem that doesn't exist.”

The current Cherokee tag compact runs through Dec. 31st, 2024. If it expires, the Cherokees could still make and issue tags, but only within the 14-county tribal jurisdiction area. Cherokees who live outside that area could not register vehicles with tribal plates.


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