Cherokee citizens are expected to pack the Cherokee Nation Council meeting today at 1 p.m. in Tahlequah, expressing concern and outrage over an Agreement In Principle with the state of Oklahoma relaxing much of the jurisdiction won in the McGirt Supreme Court decision two weeks ago.
One counselor, Wes Nofire, has proclaimed that the agreement was a “backdoor deal” done behind closed doors and sacrifices Cherokee Nation sovereignty in the name of getting along with the state.
The council was not consulted before it was announced the nation was participating in the agreement, Nofire said.
“You need to back off and sit down,” Native activist Suzan Shown Harjo said to Cherokee Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin. “It is a sad day in Indian Country when one Native Nation is willing to sell out another because of some backroom dealing benefit.”
Some citizens are circulating a petition for the removal of Hoskin over the debacle.
UPDATE 2:04 P.M.: After the council meeting, the Cherokee Nation released the following:
“The leaders of the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations have been, and continue to be, committed to discussing the parameters of the historic Supreme Court decision in the McGirt case. These leaders agree that any path forward requires strong collaboration between the Five Tribes.
None of the leaders of the Five Tribes support eroding our sovereignty or turning back the recognition of our reservation achieved through McGirt. We feel that the leaders of each tribe understand that we must be engaged with the state Attorney General and members of Oklahoma’s Congressional delegation if we are to have a meaningful voice in any legislative process that moves forward as a result of McGirt. Above all, each leader has a responsibility to the citizens we represent to protect our sovereignty.
Last week’s statement of principles began a discussion with state and federal stakeholders. Upon further reflection, and after obtaining feedback from the people we represent, leaders of the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations agree that more discussion is warranted with stakeholders and the general public. We remain committed to communicating with and responding to the stakeholders and tribal citizens about the statement of principles, and we are committed to take the time to do that. We remain deeply respectful of Chief Hill’s and Chief Chilcoat’s views on this matter on behalf of their respective nations, and we will continue to work with them on this issue.
The leaders of the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations are engaged in a wide-ranging discussion of issues surrounding tribal, state and federal jurisdiction in light of McGirt. We all agree that such discussion must address the parameters of criminal jurisdiction and potential impacts of the McGirt case on civil jurisdiction, and must involve members of Congress and state leaders. We are optimistic that the leadership of the Five Tribes will demonstrate the wisdom to remain engaged, in a unified manner, with stakeholders as we move forward cautiously and carefully on matters impacting the McGirt case.”