OKLAHOMA CITY — One day after announcing an agreement in principle with Oklahoma’s attorney general on proposed federal legislation regarding tribal jurisdiction, the leaders of two of five major Native American tribes indicated Friday that they don’t support the deal.
Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief David Hill and Seminole Nation Chief Greg P. Chilcoat both said they’re not in agreement with the document released Thursday by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter.
The agreement announced Thursday with leaders of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole nations came after the high court ruled last week that much of eastern Oklahoma remains an Indian reservation. The agreement was not legally binding, but was a framework for proposed federal legislation.
“As the chief, I very much believe that collaboration between federal, state and tribal governments is critical and necessary following the Supreme Court’s decision,” Hill wrote in a letter to tribal citizens. “That collaboration, however, does not require congressional legislation.”
Muscogee (Creek) Nation Press Secretary Jason Salsman said the tribe would have further comment on the matter early next week.
Chilcoat said in a statement the Seminole Nation wasn’t involved in discussions and never formally approved the agreement.
Both Hunter and tribal representatives issued press releases on Thursday indicating their support of the plan. Hunter said Friday Hill’s announcement was a “stunning and regrettable reversal of commitments and assurances to me.”
“Legislation is necessary to clarify the criminal and civil uncertainty created by the McGirt decision,” Hunter said in a statement. “I am deeply disappointed in Chief Hill for withdrawing from this process. It is my hope that both the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the Seminole Nation will recommit to our agreement on legislation that preserves public safety and promotes continued economic growth.”
Under the agreement, the state would have criminal jurisdiction over non-Native American offenders throughout the treaty territories, with some exceptions, while the tribes would have overlapping jurisdiction over most offenders who are tribal citizens. Federal prosecutors would still have jurisdiction under the Major Crimes Act over certain serious crimes committed by Native Americans.
The agreement clarifies that civil jurisdiction would remain largely unchanged.
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