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Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt sends 'one-size-fits-all' car tag compact to tribes

Muscogee Creek Nation license plates are piled up in a box
Muscogee Nation
Muscogee Nation
Muscogee Creek Nation license plates

Oklahoma tribal nations across the state have received a letter and model compact from Gov. Kevin Stitt.

The letter says if tribal leaders can accommodate the governor’s concerns about tag issues, he would sign the one-size-fits-all compact. These concerns range from public safety problems to outstanding toll fines.

“The purpose of this letter is to further convey my desire to enter long-term motor vehicle registration and license tag compacts with all of Oklahoma’s tribal partners,” Stitt writes. “To that end, my office has prepared the attached model compact, which reflects the same terms as those agreed to by the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations.”

The governor argues that if all the tribes in the state signed the model compact, it would improve public safety, increase infrastructure spending and improve customer service availability for tribal citizens who could go to a Service Oklahoma location rather than their tribal headquarters.

The conditions in the compact include:

  • A 10-year term.
  • Applies to all noncommercial vehicles.
  • Provides for coordination between the State and the Tribe for the design and manufacture of tribal license plates.
  • 85% of funds otherwise distributed to the ROADS funds are remitted to the Tribe after apportionment.
  • Provides for certain information or report sharing between the Tribe and the State to ensure public safety and resolve outstanding turnpike toll concerns.

The letter was not sent to the Cherokee, Chickasaw or Choctaw tribes who already had compacts.

It’s unclear what many tribes will do. Osage Nation officials say they will not respond, while the Citizen Potawatomi Nation says it is reviewing the letter. Other tribal officials did not respond.

However, some of the email addresses the letter was sent to are no longer in service or to tribes that don’t issue their own plates. One of the recipients listed is former Ottawa Tribe Chief Ethel Cook, who died last year. Another recipient — a former Comanche Nation chairman — was voted out of office in early March.

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Katie Hallum covers Indigenous Affairs at KOSU.
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