OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Following a recent decision by the United States Supreme Court regarding tribal land in Oklahoma, Governor Kevin Stitt issued an executive order to form the Oklahoma Commission on Cooperative Sovereignty.
Officials say the commission will address concerns and make recommendations to the state and Congress regarding to McGirt v. Oklahoma decision.
On July 9, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the Muscogee (Creek) reservation was never disestablished. It’s a ruling that has a big impact on the state’s criminal justice system.
“For anybody that has an Indian card, a CDIB card, a certified degree of Indian blood,” Native American law attorney Robert Gifford told KFOR. “If they are within the Creek Nation, the state of Oklahoma had no jurisdiction over them.”
As it stands, these decisions alter the State’s legal jurisdiction and law enforcement capabilities on potentially a significant portion of eastern Oklahoma, creating uncertainty for many Oklahomans.
“We know that there is a lot of unpredictability right now,” said Gov. Stitt. “We are committed to working with all Oklahomans, Tribal and non-Tribal, to create a practical and sustainable path forward. This commission is the first step.”
The commission will advise the governor on civil, criminal and regulatory concerns.
The commission is composed of the following members:
- Larry Nichols, co-founder of Devon Energy, is chair of the commission
- Former U.S. Sen. Don Nickles
- Former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts
- Oklahoma Sen. Julie Daniels
- Oklahoma Rep. Mark Lepak
- Alan Armstrong
- Brent Bolen
- Suzie Brewster
- Harold Hamm
- Joe Robson.
Additional members may also include a representative of the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office, a member of the District Attorneys Council and representatives of Oklahoma’s federally recognized Indian Tribes.
Gov. Stitt says collaboration with Oklahoma’s Tribes will be crucial.
“We absolutely need the partnership of the Tribes for this process to be successful,” said Gov. Stitt. “I respect and recognize the sovereignty of every Tribe in Oklahoma and look forward to working with every Tribe to ensure that we meet our shared economic, security and social goals.”
Gov. Stitt emphasized that the commission’s work will be comprehensive and thorough, presenting a unified response for the State.
“While I appreciate the enthusiasm to rush into agreements, it’s vital that our next steps be thoughtful and informed,” said Gov. Stitt. “The Commission provides all Oklahomans with a central platform to help determine what those next steps might be.”
Per the Executive Order, state agencies, boards or commissions that believe they may be impacted by the McGirt decision are ordered to submit a Notice of Potential Impact by Aug. 28, and a more detailed Report of Potential Impact by Sept. 30.
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