Oklahoma’s Governor May Be Ousted from Tribal Negotiations Due to His Hostile Stance Towards Native Americans

Oklahoma's Governor May Be Ousted from Tribal Negotiations Due to His Hostile Stance Towards Native AmericansAccording to Republican leaders, Governor Kevin Stitt’s negative stance towards Oklahoma’s four Native American tribes costs the state a lot of money. That is why they consider pushing him out of tribal negotiations. They claim that this feud with the Native Americans is destroying the relationship between the state and the tribal leaders, built over many years across both Republican and Democratic administrations. This June, the governor announced that the proposed tribal compacts were unfair because tribes could buy licenses at a lower price and urged lawmakers to uphold his veto.

The state and tribes have worked out these agreements, also known as compacts, over several decades. Under these agreements, the state and the tribes share revenue from gambling, vehicle tags, and selling tobacco and motor fuel on tribal land. These compacts are a major source of revenue for both the state and tribes. In fact, last year alone, tribal gambling generated over $200 million for the state. Senate President Greg Treat said that even former President Donald Trump could not understand why the governor is so negative about the tribes.

The governor’s relationship with many tribal leaders has been exacerbated ever since his attempts to renegotiate the state’s share of casino revenue failed. Tribal leaders, on the other hand, did not hesitate to use their political influence to prevent Stitt from being re-elected. The governor responded by vetoing all proposed bills endorsed by the tribes. Stitt explained that his goal is to negotiate the best deal for the state.

According to Stitt, the ruling made by the U.S. Supreme Court in the McGirt case on tribal sovereignty, which declared that a significant part of eastern Oklahoma is still a Native American reservation, could allow tribes to undermine non-tribal retailers in that region. Currently, tribal tobacco sales are only allowed in retail outlets on tribal trust land. However, since the McGirt decision, it has been determined that over 40% of the state is now within the limits of historical reservations.

The Legislature to Override Stitt’s Vetoes of Bills Endorsed by State Tribes

The feud between Oklahoma’s governor and the tribes will be discussed during a special meeting scheduled to take place this Monday. During the meeting, the Republican-controlled Legislature is expected to override Stitt’s vetos of bills seeking to extend tribal compacts on tobacco and vehicle for one more year.

According to Senate President Greg Treat, the Legislature will give the governor another year to change his stance and negotiate with the tribes. But if no progress is made, the Legislature has the right to take over the responsibility of negotiating the compacts.

Oklahoma’s Attorney General Gentner Drummond, who is a Republican, has also criticized Governor Stitt’s negative posture toward the tribes. Drummond has asked the Legislature to allow him to defend Oklahoma’s interests in the upcoming legal battle over the gambling compacts. Last week, the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek), and Seminole nations issued a joint statement, claiming that Stitt’s negative stance toward the tribes threaten the relationship between the state and tribal leaders.

Stitt’s negative posture toward the tribes has been questioned even by fellow Republicans, who are aware of the fact that Native Americans make important contributions to the state economy. According to experts on tribal law, lawmakers must work with the tribes in order to find a mutually beneficial solution.