The Quapaw Nation this week filed a motion seeking to intervene in the ongoing litigation in federal court requesting a determination that the Oklahoma tribal‑state gaming compacts automatically renewed on January 1, 2020.
The Quapaw Nation would join five other tribes that already are parties in the case, including the Cherokee Nation, the Chickasaw Nation, the Choctaw Nation, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and the Citizen Potawatomi Nation—all of which have major Indian gaming resorts in Oklahoma. The Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Choctaw Nations filed the declaratory judgment action naming Governor Stitt on December 31, 2019.
“This litigation allows both the tribes and the state to seek a resolution to some of the key compact negotiations issues in a neutral, judicial forum,” said John L. Berrey, Chairman of the Quapaw Nation’s Business Committee. “Our leadership team has been very supportive of the parties’ working toward a resolution in a constructive and businesslike manner, and we think this litigation could be helpful to all of the participants.”
Berrey said the Oklahoma Indian tribes make major contributions to the economy of Oklahoma, particularly in rural areas, which makes it critical that the gaming compact negotiations are productive and do not result in damage to the relationship between the tribal governments and the state.
Berrey also noted that the gaming compact negotiations are complicated, in large part because they involve 31 tribal governments that engage in gaming, as well as the State of Oklahoma, including the governor and the legislature, and the Secretary of the interior.
“This is not a simple process because of the large number of governments involved,” Berrey said. “I think we all believe we can get to a mutually acceptable resolution. But it will take some work and a lot of listening.”
Revenues from Indian gaming are the primary source of governmental revenues for Indian tribes, which makes the compact negotiations very important to tribes and tribal leaders, Berrey said. The Quapaw Nation is one of the largest employers in the far northeastern corner of Oklahoma, not only providing jobs in the hospitality and gaming industry, but also in agriculture and other areas.
“So far, since the compacts were first approved in 2005 the tribes and the state have had a mutually productive relationship, and I hope that continues,” Berrey said.
The lawsuit, which is styled and captioned Cherokee Nation et al. v. Stitt, No. CIV‑19‑1198-D, is pending in the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City.