Hoskin says Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs letter opposes tribes
The Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs has urged Oklahoma’s congressional delegation to introduce legislation that formally dissolves the Cherokee, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek), Chickasaw and Seminole reservations in Oklahoma. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – In another development to appear in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt v. Oklahoma decision, a conservative think tank sent a letter in early October to Oklahoma’s congressional delegation urging the formal dissolution of the Five Tribes’ Oklahoma-based reservations.
The letter released by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs states that the McGirt result creates “two sets of rules for Oklahomans, even many who live right next door to each other.”
“Whether one has to pay state and local taxes, or abide by civil, regulatory, and environmental laws, or is protected in matters including freedom of speech or anything that affects ‘the political integrity, the economic security, or the health or welfare of the tribe’ is now in question,” the letter states.
Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. released a statement stating the OCPA letter was in direct opposition to the SCOTUS ruling in McGirt, and the CN.
“We knew our reservation was never diminished, but it took more than a century for the government of the United States to acknowledge this and for the state of Oklahoma to come to terms with the continued existence of our reservation,” Hoskin said. “The reality is that we need to work through any jurisdictional gaps that McGirt might create, and that will likely take some action by Congress. That action needs to respect our tribes, not erode our sovereignty.
Hoskin said Congress should “empower” tribes to continue working with Oklahoma to resolve issues of legal jurisdiction.
“I know there are interests in this state, like the OCPA that see tribes as an impediment for their own interests and want to see tribes out of the way, but we are very much an integral part of this state,” Hoskin said. “OCPA’s actions are precisely why, even before the McGirt decision was handed down, that I engaged with state and federal leaders on the subject because, plainly, there are anti-tribal interests in this state like OCPA and would have Congress eliminate our sovereignty. OCPA’s outdated and ill-informed anti-tribal sovereignty views should be promptly rejected by the Oklahoma Congressional delegation.”
The OCPA is not affiliated with any branch of government, and cannot set policy. However, it has frequently lobbied for measures since its founding in 1993 that were ultimately approved by the Oklahoma Legislature.
Today, it has less influence than when the statehouse first shifted toward the GOP in the 2000s, partly because a number of its positions run counter to those held by many Republican lawmakers. To the consternation of some Oklahoma businesses, the OCPA supported the gross production tax increase on oil and gas wells, which was passed by the GOP held House, Senate and Gov. Mary Fallin. The funding was mostly used to increase pay for teachers.
The OCPA also supports State Question 805, which if approved would end sentence enhancements for non-violent crimes.
Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating resigned from the OCPA’s board in September, citing the think tank’s “libertarian drift” among other reasons – including its “dismissive attitude toward Native American aspirations.” The OCPA has also been critical of the gaming compacts between the state and tribes, claiming Oklahoma doesn’t get a large enough cut of the revenue.
Oklahoma’s senior U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, seeking re-election in November, has said he does not want to be involved with any discussion about the effects of McGirt unless the tribes are also involved.
The OCPA letter can be read at:https://www.ocpathink.org/uploads/assets/pdfs/McGirt-Letter_10.8.2020.pdf