Court rules in CN’s favor on UKB trust land case

BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
06/01/2017 01:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – After awaiting a decision for approximately three years, a federal judge on May 31 ruled in the Cherokee Nation’s favor in its lawsuit against the Interior Department, which in 2011 stated the United Keetoowah Band could have 76 acres of trust land within the CN’s jurisdiction without the Nation’s consent.

Judge Ronald White, of the District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, stated the Interior putting land into trust for the “UKB or the UKB Corporation” violated treaties between the United States and the CN, and could not be done without the CN’s consent. White also stated the Interior’s 2011 decision was “arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, and otherwise not in accordance with law.”

“Furthermore, in accordance with the court’s findings herein, the (Interior) Secretary is enjoined from taking the Subject Tract into trust without the Cherokee Nation’s written consent and full consideration of the jurisdictional conflicts and the resulting administrative burdens the acquisition would place on the (Interior’s Eastern Oklahoma) Region. Before taking any land into trust for the UKB or the UKB Corporation, the Region shall consider the effect of Carcieri (v. Salazar) on such acquisition,” the ruling states.

A 2009 Supreme Court case, Carcieri v. Salazar, broadly held that the Interior secretary’s authority to place land into trust under the Indian Reorganization Act applies only to tribes that were “under federal jurisdiction” as of 1934. The UKB formed in 1946 under the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act.

White’s ruling also “remands” the action to the Interior’s Eastern Oklahoma Region.

CN Attorney General Todd Hembree said the case was a “critical” win and that “no issue” is more important to the Nation’s government than “preservation” of its sovereign rights.

“The court rightly deemed the BIA’s (Bureau of Indian Affairs) pursuit for trust land for another tribe within the Cherokee Nation’s jurisdiction was illegal,” he said.

Hembree said the court saw the “facts” and decided “justly” on the ruling.

“We have said time and time again, the Cherokee Nation is the only tribe that can exercise authority within the Cherokee Nation’s jurisdiction,” he said.

UKB officials had no comment on the ruling as of publication.

According to a 2014 Cherokee Phoenix article, the CN filed the lawsuit with the Northern District of Oklahoma in Tulsa after the Interior ruled to give the UKB 76 acres of trust land.

In the lawsuit, the CN states the Interior’s 2011 decision permits it to take 76 acres located within the CN’s “former reservation and historic treaty territory of the Cherokee Nation” into trust for the UKB.

“The 2011 decision is contrary to an unbroken line of prior departmental rulings and to a series of decisions by this court,” the complaint states.

The complaint requested the court declare that the UKB is not a “successor in interest” to the CN’s former reservation or treaty territory and that the Nation’s consent is required for taking land into trust within the tribe’s boundaries. It also asked the court to declare that the Interior’s 2011 decision violates treaties entered between the CN and U.S. and that it is “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and contrary to law.” Also, it asked the court to declare that the DOI would act in excess of its legal and regulatory trust authority it if took the land into trust.

The complaint also wanted the court to prevent the DOI from taking any action to implement the 2011 decision.

The UKB first submitted an application for trust land in 2004, but the BIA declined it in 2006. The UKB appealed, only to have the application declined again in August 2008. The UKB then appealed once more.

In September 2008, the then-acting Indian Affairs assistant secretary took over jurisdiction of the appeal, concluding that the UKB should be allowed to amend the application, which it did.

In 2013, Hembree said the CN has always had “exclusive jurisdiction over” the 14 counties that make up its boundaries. He said the BIA’s belief that the UKB and CN are both predecessors of the CN “brought over here through the forced removal” was troubling because the UKB formed under the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act.

Click here toread the court documents.
About the Author
Stacie Guthrie started working at the Cherokee Phoenix in 2013 as an intern. After graduating from Northeastern State University with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications she was hired as a reporter.

Stacie not only writes for the Phoenix, but also produces videos and regularly hosts the Cherokee Phoenix radio broadcast.

She found her passion for video production while taking part in broadcast media classes at NSU. It was there she co-created a monthly video segment titled “Northeastern Gaming,” which included video game reviews, video game console reviews and discussions regarding influential video games.

While working at the Phoenix she has learned more about her Cherokee culture, saying she is grateful for the opportunity to work for and with the Cherokee people.

In 2014, Stacie won a NativeAmerican Journalists Association award for a video she created while working as an intern for the Phoenix. She was awarded first place in the “Best News Story-TV” category.

Stacie is a member of NAJA.
stacie-guthrie@cherokee.org • 918-453-5000 ext. 5903
Stacie Guthrie started working at the Cherokee Phoenix in 2013 as an intern. After graduating from Northeastern State University with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications she was hired as a reporter. Stacie not only writes for the Phoenix, but also produces videos and regularly hosts the Cherokee Phoenix radio broadcast. She found her passion for video production while taking part in broadcast media classes at NSU. It was there she co-created a monthly video segment titled “Northeastern Gaming,” which included video game reviews, video game console reviews and discussions regarding influential video games. While working at the Phoenix she has learned more about her Cherokee culture, saying she is grateful for the opportunity to work for and with the Cherokee people. In 2014, Stacie won a NativeAmerican Journalists Association award for a video she created while working as an intern for the Phoenix. She was awarded first place in the “Best News Story-TV” category. Stacie is a member of NAJA.

News

BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
07/24/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – At a July 24 meeting, the Election Commission certified E.O. Smith as the Dist. 5 Tribal Council winner and Mike Shambaugh as the Dist. 9 Tribal Council winner from the July 22 runoff elections. <strong>Dist. 5</strong> Smith won his first term as Tribal Councilor by getting 52.26 percent of the vote with 347 votes. His opponent Uriah Grass received 317 votes for 47.74 percent. Smith said thanked his supporters and that it has been a “long campaign.” “I would just like to thank everybody. It’s been a very long campaign. Uriah is a good guy. I will ask his advice on some things, and I want him to know he can come to me anytime with a suggestion, and I will listen to him,” Smith said. “First thing I want to do is see our community pull together and be one. I’m going to work for everybody. I am going to be everybody’s councilman, and I am going to make the people glad they voted for me. I can’t wait to get started.” Smith will serve western Sequoyah County and part of eastern Muskogee County. <strong>Dist. 9</strong> Shambaugh earned his first term as the Dist. 9 representative after receiving 54.96 percent of the vote with 421 votes. His opponent Clifton Hughes received 345 votes for 45.04 percent. Shambaugh said he would like to thank his supporters and that he’s “fortunate” to serve Dist. 9. “I had great help on this election. I had people who stepped up and made it easy for me to mingle with the crowd. I think I’m very fortunate to serve District 9,” he said. Shambaugh will serve the southern portion of Delaware County south of Highway 20 and part of eastern Mayes County. According to results, 1,432 of the 4,517 registered voters in the two contested districts cast ballots. The more than 1,400 voters accounted for a 31.7 percent turnout. According to the EC’s calendar, candidates had until 5 p.m. on July 26 to request a recount and until 5 p.m. on July 31 to contest the election. The Tribal Council inauguration ceremony is set for 10 a.m. on Aug. 14 at the “Place Where They Play” gymnasium at Sequoyah High School in Tahlequah.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
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BY KENLEA HENSON
News Writer
07/23/2017 01:45 AM
VIAN, Okla. – Candidates E.O. Smith and Uriah Grass vied for the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council’s Dist. 5 seat in a runoff election on July 22. Smith won the seat by receiving 52.26 percent of the vote or 347 votes out of 664 total votes, according to the unofficial results from the CN Election Commission. “I would just like to thank everybody. It’s been a very long campaign. Uriah is a good guy, I will ask his advice on some things, and I want him to know he can come to me anytime with a suggestion, and I will listen to him,” said Smith. “First thing I want to do is see our community pull together and be one. I going to work for everybody, I am going to be everybody’s councilman, and I am going to make the people glad they voted for me. I can’t wait to get started.” Smith said he has always been a “people person” so working for the people is his main goal as the district’s councilman. “I’m going to open an office in Vian from 9 a.m. to noon, five days a week so if you have a problem come see me and I will try to get you an answer and go to work on your problems right then,” he said. “If you can’t come during those times you can call me and we will make an appointment and I’ll meet with you. I am going to be with the people so they know that I am genuinely interested in their problems.” Grass came in close behind Smith by winning 47.74 percent of the vote or 317 votes. Grass could not be reached for a comment about the election results. As Dist. 5 councilman, Smith will be serving western Sequoyah County and part of eastern Muskogee County. The Tribal Council inauguration ceremony for elected officials will be held at 10 a.m., Aug. 14 at the “Place Where They Play” gymnasium at Sequoyah High School in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
BY CHANDLER KIDD
Intern
07/23/2017 01:30 AM
JAY, Okla. – A July 22 runoff election to fill the Dist. 9 Cherokee Nation council seat may be remembered for the winner as well as the low voter turn out. Candidate Mike Shambaugh defeated candidate Clifton Hughes with 54.96 percent of the vote or 421 votes. Hughes received 45.04 percent or 345 votes. In official results, only 766 voters participated in the runoff election. Voting took place at precincts in the towns of Jay, Kansas, Kenwood and Salina. Dist. 9 include the southern portion of Delaware County south of Hwy. 20 and part of eastern Mayes County. Shambaugh reacted to the win in an enthusiastic tone. He thanked his supporters and said he wanted to rest for a couple of days before working on his council agenda. “I had great help on this election. I had people who stepped up and made it easy for me to mingle with the crowd. I think I’m very fortunate to serve District 9,” Shambaugh said. “Personally I want to relax for a couple of days. Whenever you campaign every day until 11:30 at night or later it wears on you.” Although Hughes was not the winning candidate, he was still willing to comment about the runoff election. Hughes said he is proud of his hard work and campaign. “I just want to thank my supporters and (say) that I ran an honest campaign,” Hughes said. Shambaugh and the other council candidates who their races in June and in the runoff election will be sworn in to office at 10 a.m., Aug. 14 in the “Place Where They Play gymnasium at Sequoyah High School in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
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BY STAFF REPORTS
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