Tribal Leaders Concerned With State’s Plan For Forum On Tribal Jurisdiction

Thursday, July 8th 2021, 6:09 pm

TULSA, Oklahoma -

The leaders of four of the five tribes impacted by the Supreme Court’s ruling on tribal jurisdiction said they’re not happy with how a planned forum in Tulsa came together.

The forum to discuss the McGirt ruling is scheduled for next week and was organized by the Tulsa County District Attorney’s office and Governor Kevin Stitt.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. is not holding back.

"I think it suggests that Governor Stitt's leadership on this issue is lacking," said Hoskin.

Hoskin, along with leaders of the Chickasaw, Choctaw and Muscogee Nations, said they’re not happy with how an upcoming forum discussing the impact of the Supreme Court's ruling on tribal jurisdiction came together.

"There's so much more we can do together than to have rallies that are designed to undermine what is the most important case in Indian law in generations," said Hoskin.

That event called the "McGirt vs. Oklahoma: Community Impact Forum" is being held by the Tulsa County District attorney's office, Marcy’s Law and Governor Kevin Stitt’s office next Tuesday.

Governor Stitt's office helped plan it, and it will give victims and their families a chance to ask questions and express concerns about the McGirt ruling, which said the state does not have jurisdiction to prosecute crimes involving native Americans on tribal land.

Many cases are being re-prosecuted on the federal level.

"This is a crisis and political leadership needs to stand up, so I'm grateful to the Governor that he's at least making the effort to try and bring this out to the public," said Steve Kunzweiler, District Attorney for Tulsa County.

Besides Governor Stitt, district attorneys, congressional delegates and victims advocate groups will all be there.

Tribal leadership though is not on the panel.

Muscogee Principal Chief David Hill said his direct office found out about it on Wednesday night.

"There was no tribal leadership involved," said Hill.

But the Governor's office said they did reach out to the Attorney Generals of each tribe more than a month ago wanting them to be involved.

News on 6 received a copy of the email they sent on June 3rd, but the Governor’s office said they never heard back.

Hoskin believes there are other ways to work through this.

"My concern is that the crisis is one that's being manufactured,” said Hoskin. “It’s one that’s being generated. It's being generated for a reason. It's being generated by people who want to erode tribal sovereignty."

All four tribes though said they will have representatives in attendance to listen in.

The event is happening from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 13, at the Cox Center.