TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (KFOR) – A long-standing agreement with two Native American tribes is coming to an end.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced that he will not renew standing hunting and fishing compacts with the governments for the Five Tribes after they expire this year.
The agreements with the Cherokee and Choctaw Nations have been in place since 2016, but will now end on Dec. 31, 2021.
The compacts were the first state-tribal agreements of their kind in the country and provided millions of dollars for state conservation efforts.
“This decision is tremendously disappointing, not just for Cherokee citizens who are losing a program that Governor Stitt himself knew was a win-win, but for every Oklahoman who has benefited from these agreements and the future generations that would have benefited from federal funding to support wildlife management and conservation,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. “Unfortunately, this is consistent with what we’ve seen from the governor since the Supreme Court’s McGirt decision. Whenever there is an opportunity to cooperate with tribes – whether on keeping criminals off the streets or on hunting and fishing rights – the governor has instead sought to undermine collaboration and claim McGirt created chaos. I promise the citizens of the Cherokee Nation that I will continue to aggressively defend our treaty rights and sovereignty against these attacks.”
“Under previous administrations, compacts regarding hunting and fishing licenses were a routine matter. They clearly provided great financial and cultural benefit to both the state and tribal members. Unfortunately, Gov. Stitt has once again decided to let his personal concerns outweigh what is best for the people he was elected to represent, putting conflict above cooperation,” said Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton. “We hope he will change his stance and respect tribal sovereignty while protecting wildlife, generating revenue and improving the quality of life for Oklahomans.”
“We believe in the treaty rights of tribal nations,” said Muscogee Nation Principal Chief David Hill. “The state’s decision to end the hunting and fishing Compacts with the Cherokee and Choctaw Nations is disappointing especially in that it only hurts the state of Oklahoma, but the true intent is to demean tribal sovereignty.”
“Chickasaws have long had a close relationship with the land and a strong commitment to responsible stewardship of our natural resources,” said Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby. “Wildlife conservation is an important aspect of our duty to protect and preserve our environment for future generations. Therefore, the Chickasaw Nation is joining the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole Nations in a collaborative effort to protect the hunting and fishing rights of our citizens while also preserving Oklahoma’s abundant wildlife for the benefit of our children and grandchildren.”
“The Treaty of 1866 between the United States and Seminole Nation guaranteed the Seminole possession of their land and protection against enemies in exchange for peace,” said Seminole Nation of Oklahoma Chief Lewis Johnson. “The Seminole Nation since time immemorial has supported tribal sovereignty and remains at peace with other Indian tribes and supports our fellow tribes in calling for the methods and tactics of the Governor of the State of Oklahoma to cease the acts of hostility on tribal sovereignty. It’s time for the governor to change his approach to tribal rights, and instead focus on doing what’s best for the people of Oklahoma and recognize the value of tribal partnerships. Seminoles will always stand up for tribal rights and sovereignty.”
The Cherokee compact generated more than $32 million, and the Choctaw compact accounted for $6 million.
“Governor Stitt believes that all Oklahomans should receive equal treatment under the law and offered both the Cherokee Nation and the Choctaw Nation the opportunity to enter into a compact to purchase licenses for their members by paying the same price as Oklahomans who are not tribal members. Personal attacks on the governor will not deter him from protecting the interests of all 4 million Oklahomans, including the state’s wildlife and natural resources.”
Charlie Hannema, Chief of Communications for Gov. Kevin Stitt