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Tribal leaders discuss solutions to sovereignty challenges

Native America: Tribal jurisdiction
Posted at 4:13 PM, Jan 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-14 18:25:42-05

TULSA, Okla. — Tribal leaders with the Cherokee and Chickasaw Nation are grappling with ways to address the challenges of sovereignty.

Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Governor Bill Anoatubby sat down for a virtual round-table discussion Thursday.

The Supreme Court McGirt decision was a hard-fought win for the tribal nations in Oklahoma. However, it provided some challenges to leaders to move forward with some of the barriers they still face, such as limitations Congress put on the length of sentences tribes can hand out and gaps in criminal state statutes.

"Governor Anoatubby and I are committed to making sure that any jurisdictional gaps that exist, any challenges that we have, we resolve those, and we believe there's a path to resolving those. We think that there has to be an opportunity to compact around criminal jurisdiction," said Chief Hoskin Jr.

Both leaders also agree that some issues will have to be resolved in Congress. However, both said they do not support any erosion of their sovereignty rightfully earned in the ruling.

The issue of a "legislative-fix" has been openly opposed by other tribes such as the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

Due to a contentious negotiation over gaming compacts last year, some are concerned that a state compact over Tribal jurisdiction might be a long-shot.

However, Chief Hoskin Jr. said he thinks the nation can work with the governor despite the previous issues.

"There's plenty of people in this state, particularly in the state legislature that understands the wisdom of compacting and, and they actually have a deeper well of knowledge about compacting then the governor did," said Chief Hoskin Jr. "So, I'm counting on those allies and counting on and being optimistic that the governor's learned some lessons that the next round of compacting will be a success. And if it's compacting around McGirt well, that'll be a great test of his leadership, but he'll have other leaders in the state that I think are encouraging him to approach this in a cooperative manner."

We reached out to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation for reaction to the suggestions made during the round-table but have not heard back.

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