DURANT, Okla. (KFOR) – While the gaming compact negotiations between tribal and state leaders are at a standstill, one Oklahoma tribe has received an extension for another compact negotiation.
On Tuesday morning, officials with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma say their hunting and fishing compact with the state was set to expire on Dec. 31.
Although tribal leaders and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation reached a renewal agreement, tribal leaders said the compact received no response from Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office.
“We are disappointed that negotiations have come to a standstill with state administration on the Hunting and Fishing Compact,” said Jack Austin, Jr., Assistant Chief for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. “This program has been a mutually beneficial agreement, benefitting both tribal members and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.”
The Choctaw Nation began discussions to renew the hunting and fishing agreement in August and received approval for its proposal from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife.
The proposal included the guaranteed purchase of thousands of state licenses for tribal members, and organizers said it would have created $4.8 million in projected revenue for the state in 2020.
After not hearing from the governor’s office, Choctaw leaders advised members to get their own licenses through the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
“We are pursuing other avenues to provide opportunities for our tribal members and protect the Choctaw cultural tradition of hunting and fishing,” said Gary Batton, Chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. “While we have always been interested in a strong tribal-state partnership and remain open to negotiation on this issue, we are investigating alternative solutions that strengthen our tribal sovereignty.”
On Tuesday morning, officials with Gov. Stitt’s office say the administration has been in discussions with the Choctaw Nation about extending the compact for one year.
A short time later, Stitt’s office announced that the State of Oklahoma had signed a one-year extension with the Choctaw Nation.
“This compact extends a partnership between the state of Oklahoma and the Choctaw Nation to capture federal funds for conservation efforts across our great state while promoting hunting and fishing opportunities for members of the Choctaw Nation that are also Oklahoma residents,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt.