Scott Pruitt Presses ‘Deleting’ Reserve Status – But Is That Or Is Competence The Real Problem For Oklahomans? An analysis | Government
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categories: Tribal … Government (both, please)
Oklahoma City – The “favorites” for election to the four-year term of the United States Senate are considered by opponents as “career politicians”.
One such careerist is Scott Pruitt who served as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from February 17, 2017 to July 9, 2018, during the Trump administration.
Prior to that, he served as Oklahoma’s elected attorney general from 2007 to 2015.
And, before that, Pruitt was a member of the state Senate, representing Wagoner County and parts of Tulsa County, from 1999 to 2006.
He ran unsuccessfully for the seat in the US First Congressional District after the departure of Steve Largent.
Along the way, he was part of the ownership group of the Oklahoma City AAA professional baseball team.
While serving as Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt was part of the group of state and local officials who brokered a water deal that awarded (or, as some would say “recognized”) a 25% share of the water from the Kiamichi Basin in southeastern Oklahoma.
When the water deal was announced in 2016, reporters and others were summoned to the Gaylord-Pickens Museum in Oklahoma City for a self-congratulatory event involving tribal leaders and lawyers from the Chickasaw and Choctaw, state officials including Pruitt, and the Oklahoma City Manager.
Not a drop for the Caddo
One by one, major politicians (tribal and state) spoke up and left before the reporters could ask questions.
They were busy, you know. When questions came in, they were handled by…the lawyers.
When asked by a reporter (your humble servant) why the interests of the Caddo Nation (the native people of the area) were not being represented, a Chicksaw lawyer helpfully briefed the remaining reporters (most people had left after the marquee speakers) that the Caddos weren’t part of the deal because… they weren’t parties to the litigation that triggered the water deal.
Of course, they weren’t. Great lawyers work in great buildings in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The Big Tribes have, for many years, had Big Cash.
Caddo? They didn’t have the money.
The only problem is, gee whiz: when the underlying litigation began in 2011, the governor of Oklahoma had (in response to a question) said through a spokesperson: “The governor said that moving forward, it’s important that the State of Oklahoma and the tribes have a productive conversation about water rights outside of the courtroom. The Caddo Nation will certainly play an important role in this conversation. The governor is committed to working with them and other parties to seek solutions that benefit all Oklahomans. It will continue to work in good faith to find common ground and resolution.
But when the water deal was announced, there was “Nary a Drop” for the Caddo. And not a noticeable public word of protest from Oklahoma’s elected legal eagle, Scott Pruitt.
This is what passes for “common ground” and “good faith” in some matters.
That was then, this is now (I)
Ancient history? Maybe, but here’s an even older story:
In 2012, Pruitt and then-Governor of Oklahoma signed an important pact with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation that resolved years of litigation over tobacco sales at tribal smokehouses.
In a blue room At the signing ceremony, officials from all sides avoided any reference to past discord, instead focusing on praise of “valuable partners” and a “spirit of cooperation” in the future.
Chief George Tiger was enthusiastic when he adopted the new agreement. In response to a question from The Oklahoma City Sentinelhe thinks : “It took way too long to get signed. We look forward to more relationships with communities across the state. After all, we are all Oklahomans.
It was before, it is now (II)
Scott Pruitt, again running for political office, has spoken out – in a debate avoided by the ‘favourite’ MarcWayne Mullin and from which most of the candidates were excluded – an advocate of “Disestablishment” (by congressional action) of the restored (or, some would say, “recognized”) reservation status of 45% of eastern Oklahoma.
But “disestablishment” (a view Pruitt shares with some who were in the debate, and others who weren’t) may not be the right way to go. address The problems McGirt present.
Dr. Randy Grellneralso a candidate for the United States Senate, has since expressed its rather unique position this way on his campaign website:
“This decision is not so much about borders, but about jurisdiction and the obligation and responsibility of the U.S. government, state, and tribes, with respect to the safety of all Oklahomans, Native and non-Native..”
His campaign website pointed out some things that aren’t often articulated in this discussion:
“Besides cases in the criminal courts, there are other issues facing tribal leaders, non-indigenous residents and state officials. These issues include the taxation and regulation of lands owned by non-Indigenous people, including homes, farms, ranches, mining properties and commercial properties.
Dr. Randy put it this way in a press release in early June:
“Many years ago, the tribal nations and the state worked in partnership, which benefited all who resided in our state.
“Now, the socialist elitists have joined forces with the big casino bosses to dismantle the state. The Native Americans who live here don’t want that, and it was shown in the refusal to fly the state flag [by the Cherokee leadership].
“Whether a person is Native or not, we are all Oklahomans. We all want the best for Oklahoma and our communities collectively. The solution is simple, although the court ruled that the borders were never erased, we need a jurisdictional solution to clarify jurisdiction over non-native owned property in eastern Oklahoma . We don’t need the big casino boss monopoly protection law or any other change without them having to go through the federal process.
Grellner’s message in that press release, just over three weeks ago, was “that it is important to remember the history of the indigenous people and that those who simply wish to erase the boundaries of the reservation have no reference to the sensitivities of how the 19th century unfolded and the parade of horrific events that hit our native population.”
Grellner offered a solution: “There are at least eight states where state law applies inside a reservation. The solution to this problem is not a foreign concept.
He pointed out that the Supreme Court said, in 2020, that it was up to the US Congress to resolve the challenge created by the court.
He reflects: “With governance comes accountability. It is important that the law be consistent and transparent, and that this does not happen. …
“The Supreme Court has said that only Congress can fix this problem, and that is exactly what Congress needs to do for the benefit of all Oklahomas. It’s the right thing to do. Borders are a problem. Indigenous people deserve their common heritage. However, jurisdiction over property owned by non-tribes is another matter altogether.”
Just common sense. What a concept.
Of course, nowadays, common sense is not always common.
A former United States Attorney General once paid me a great compliment when he said, “Pat McGuigan doesn’t suffer from the burden of a legal education.
I’m a guy whose formal academic background was in history, before moving on to a life in education, journalism and legal analysis.
I remember Chief Tiger’s words, “we are all Oklahomans”.
It always seemed right to this Oklahoma citizen and lifelong student of history, including Native American History.
We are all Oklahomans. But after McGirt, some of the we reputed After less Oklahoma than others?