Tribal leaders stand firm on sovereignty

Choctaw Nation

Choctaw leaders have responded to the July 16 announcement of an agreement-in-principle that confirms nothing was “given up” in the negotiated framework agreement shared with the state of Oklahoma, which focuses on future legislation following the recent Supreme Court ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma.

In a statement, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Chief Gary Batton said, “The Choctaw Nation, working in unity with leaders of other tribal nations, is actively shaping the congressional response to the historic McGirt ruling to ensure we preserve the magnitude and integrity of the monumental win in future federal legislation.

“We are looking at ways to expand our sovereignty with the McGirt decision while balancing meeting the needs of our citizens and the communities in which they reside. Our commitment is to strengthen not weaken our tribal hard-earned rights to self-government.

“The best way to protect this is by having a ‘seat at the table’ during any legislative discussions,” Batton said. “Be assured, we will not acquiesce our rights to self-determination through our sovereignty to anyone or any government body. Working together, we stand the highest possibility to achieve historical advancements for our citizens and honor our ancestors who dreamed and fought for this day.”

Last week, the leaders of the Five Tribes said the supreme court’s ruling in the case serves to further make clear their position that boundaries described in the Nation’s treaties with the U.S. remain intact and continue to mark treaty homelands.

The boundaries are affirmed in the constitutions of each Nation, which have sovereign powers that they intend to continue exercising.