Tribal sovereignty, which is the authority of a government body to govern itself, not only predates Oklahoma but America as well. As Oklahoma was seeking admittance to the Union as the 46th state, the 1906 Statehood Enabling Act required that Oklahoma not interfere with the interests of the tribes or their lands.
From the founding fathers who recognized the importance of tribal governments, to the era of self- determination, to legislation that propelled tribes toward self-sufficiency, history is clear. When tribal sovereignty is supported, towns, counties and states are stronger. As attorney William Norman notes, “Tribal sovereignty is not a threat to the state of Oklahoma.”
The core sovereignty of tribes has remained unchanged over the years. Tribal nations have the ability to determine who their citizenry is, to regulate the activities within their borders and to interact with other sovereign governments.
The idea of cross-jurisdictions is not a new one. “Just like we have municipal and county governments and state and federal governments, there are tribal governments,” says Chickasaw Nation Senior Counsel Stephen Greetham. “You drive from Oklahoma City to Dallas and go through jurisdictions every few minutes along the way on the road. It's no different. It's just a different form of government.”
Tribal sovereignty is not a threat to Oklahoma. Ultimately, it’s about having a voice — tribal people being able to speak for themselves and make their own decisions for the future. And that’s something tribes never do in a vacuum. Rather, they do that working side-by-side with their neighbors.
Tribal sovereigns are just like any other sovereign. Tribal peoples are like other peoples. They want what's best for their kids. They want what's best for their communities.
Tribes Provide $15.5 Billion in Economic Impact
Tribes in Oklahoma support 113,442 jobs and pay $5.4 billion in wages and benefits.
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