OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Commission of Cooperative Sovereignty, on Thursday, gave Gov. Kevin Stitt its report on how the landmark Supreme Court McGirt decision will affect Oklahoma, and how the state needs to respond.
“One set of rules is essential to us becoming a Top 10 state. We need to protect the social and economic fairness that we’ve all enjoyed as a state for the last 113 years,” Stitt said. “Can you imagine what would happen over the next 113 years if we had 39 different sets of rules?”
The Commission highlighted the following five principles:
- All Oklahomans should be treated equally under the law.
- All Oklahomans should share in funding of common services provided by the state.
- Laws should apply consistently to all Oklahoma residents.
- The state must provide a level playing for all businesses.
The majority of the principles focus on all tribal and non-tribal members operating under the same set of rules no matter where they live.
“Without those common rules, without that certainty of knowing what the rules are, we will fervid business away,” Commission Chair Larry Nichols said. “That hurts the tribes and everybody the same.”
That could happen in a number of ways. Compacts between the tribes and state, federal legislation or by having congress disestablish reservations.
Stitt did stress the need for federal guidance, but he did not say if he believes reservations should be dissolved.
“Congress is having to deal with this and all of the options are on the table,” Stitt said. “Those are tough decision for congress to make. I think it’s important that what we’re focused on is fairness.”
Cherokee Nation Principle Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. says he would fight disestablishment to protect sovereignty, so he was not happy with the way Stitt handled the question.
“He had an opportunity in being questioned by reporters to say no,” Hoskin told KFOR. “No reservation is going to be disestablished. He didn’t do it, that’s alarming.”
Hoskin admits there’s a lot of work to be done, but believes the tribes and state can find middle ground.
“McGirt does recognize that the reservations never went away,” Hoskin said. “It doesn’t change the basic idea that when there’s tension between state law and tribal law that can litigate those things, but you can also resolve it in the compact without Congress doing a thing.”
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