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Cherokee Nation taps brakes on proposed satellite courthouse in North Tulsa

A Tuesday Board of Adjustment meeting in Tulsa was supposed to hear a proposal for a new satellite courthouse that would serve the Cherokee Nation. The facility, which was slated for property called North Pointe, would help with the increased caseload as part of the McGirt v. Oklahoma decision.

Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said he's tapping the brakes on it for now, due to some pushback he received in the community.

Tulsa District 1 Council member Vanessa Hall-Harper spoke during the meeting in Tulsa. The North Pointe property is in her district.

"I was not aware, nor was my community aware, of this proposal," said Hall-Harper at the start of the meeting.

She is planning to hold a town hall to discuss the satellite court proposal. The board agreed, and the matter will be taken up at the June 28 meeting.

Hoskin says there needs to be more discussion, but says the vision remains to develop the property.

"I think I owe it to the community of North Tulsa to, number one, concede that we moved too fast," said Hoskin. "We moved without them. We're not going to do that, and so we're really tapping the brakes."

In a Tweet posted on Monday, Hoskin wrote that the investment would be $3 million dollars in infrastructure improvements to house prosecutors and court staff.

Cherokee Nation planned to turn the property into a judicial resource center that would serve part of the Cherokee Nation Reservation in Tulsa. In the same Tweet, Hoskin Jr. sought to quell rumors that there would be a jail on the property. He said those rumors were false.

"I must stress that we are absolutely not, contrary to rumors on social media, 'building a jail,'" Hoskin wrote.

The Cherokee Nation was supposed to join the Board of Adjustment meeting to secure an exception to the zoning code in that area.

Cherokee Nation's headquarters, District Court and Supreme Court are located in Tahlequah, but there is a growing population of Cherokee citizens in Tulsa. The tribal nation said they've been looking for a location in Tulsa to help those who need court services but can't or don't want to drive more than an hour to Tahlequah.

Allison Herrera covered Indigenous Affairs for KOSU from April 2020 to November 2023.
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