Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby
Since the summer of 2020, a series of court rulings affirmed tribal reservations in Oklahoma and reshaped our understanding of criminal jurisdiction in the Chickasaw Nation and much of eastern Oklahoma. On January 24, 2022, the United States Supreme Court denied more than 30 petitions seeking to overturn those rulings. In doing so, the court brought a new level of judicial finality to historic developments that present us with new challenges and opportunities.
The Chickasaw Nation and the other tribal nations affected by these rulings immediately began working diligently and responsibly to meet our expanded public safety duties. We enhanced our law enforcement, criminal justice, and victim services capacities. We also reached out and deepened our intergovernmental partnerships based on a shared commitment to public safety. Together, we have been getting the job done. From the time the ruling applied to the Chickasaw Nation to the date the court denied those petitions, our prosecutors have brought 2,042 criminal matters to Chickasaw Nation District Court, more than half of which were referred to us by non-tribal police officers. Likewise, nearly three-quarters of the charges our Lighthorse Police have written up have been referred to non-tribal prosecutors.
(Related: Ruling stands, McGirt not to be overturned)
These numbers illustrate very real and very practical intergovernmental cooperation happening every day on the ground. This same sort of robust cross-jurisdictional work is happening throughout Oklahoma Indian Country, as we continue working to protect all Oklahomans.
As we are growing effective new networks for law enforcement cooperation, the tribes continue our contributions in building a stronger Oklahoma economy, hiring and making investments throughout the state and breaking records with our compact revenue-share payments. Meanwhile and for months, the Oklahoma Treasurer reports Oklahoma is breaking tax receipt records, and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce declared 2021 an historic year for economic expansion. In fact, half of the success stories the department highlighted in its year-end report focused on developments in and around Tulsa, which lies essentially at the heart of Oklahoma’s judicially affirmed Indian Country.
Our ongoing work to implement these rulings will, of course, continue to present challenges, and we will keep rising to those challenges, just as Chickasaws and Oklahomans have done throughout our shared history. The Chickasaw Nation will continue working to enhance the strength, health, vitality and security of our local communities. We understand we can accomplish much more when we focus on the needs of those we serve and work together to meet those needs.
We will continue to do our part in the work that remains, confident that together we can overcome most any challenge we may face. Our history clearly demonstrates that what is good for the Chickasaw Nation is good for the state of Oklahoma and what is good for Oklahoma is good for the Chickasaw Nation.
We look forward to working with all those who bring this same spirit to the effort.
This opinion-editorial essay does not reflect the views of Indian Country Today; voices in our opinion section represent a variety of reader points of view. If you would like to contribute an essay to Indian Country Today, email email@example.com.
More information about our guidelines: Submission guidelines.