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Tribal Leaders Unite Against Potential Federal Legislation

Leaders of three of the Five Tribes released a statement on Thursday opposing legislation in response to the McGirt v. Oklahoma decision.

The joint statement includes leaders from the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Seminole Nation and Choctaw Nation.

Previously, Choctaw Nation hadn't publicly opposed legislation, but on Thursday, Chief Gary Batton spoke up saying that tribal sovereignty is an asset to Oklahoma and not a problem needing to be fixed with federal legislation.

In the last two months, both the Seminole Nation and the Choctaw Nation have had their reservation boundaries affirmed.

Last week, Attorney General Mike Hunter released a proposal that would allow tribes to compact on the issue of criminal jurisdiction through federal legislation.


“I want to commend my fellow leaders for their meaningful stand for sovereignty and for their clear opposition to any and all legislation that would return us to a broken system. Tribal leaders around the country have uniformly signaled this moment as one that will resonate long after we’re gone. We owe it to the future and the coming generations to meet this opportunity with our greatest efforts, together." - Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief David Hill

“I am proud to stand united with my fellow tribal leaders of the Creek and Seminole Nation to state we are in agreement that tribes are an opportunity for Oklahoma, not a problem to be fixed. The McGirt decision reaffirmed the existence of our reservations. There is no need for federal legislation when sitting down and working together is the best path forward for tribes and the state. Tribes have been good neighbors and great partners for Oklahoma for hundreds of years, and we will continue to be so. If we all work in a unified approach, we can make the McGirt ruling a positive to attract businesses and to provide jobs to everyone while growing our economy.” - Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton

“It is an honor to be united with my fellow tribal leaders in advocating and defending the sovereign rights of not only tribes in Oklahoma, but all of Indian Country. We stand ready to address any issues following the McGirt ruling through respectful government to government interactions, just as Oklahoma tribes have always done. However, Congressional involvement is unnecessary and undermines the sovereignty of all tribal nations.” - Seminole Nation Chief Greg Chilcoat


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Allison Herrera is a radio and print journalist who's worked for PRX's The World, Colorado Public Radio as the climate and environment editor and as a freelance reporter for High Country News’ Indigenous Affairs desk.
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