Posted in Advocacy, SQ777

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Tribes Line Up Against SQ 777

The Journal Record ran an interesting story by Brian Brus on April 27 about SQ 777. The ballot measure is drawing opposition from some of the state’s Native American tribes. The story is behind a paywall, but if you have a subscription you can read it here.

Recently, the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes passed a resolution opposing SQ 777. That council represents the Cherokee Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Choctaw Nation and Seminole Nation.

The Journal Record reports:

“Responsible agriculture practices have always been vital to the lives of the citizens of the Five Civilized Tribes, and farming and raising animals is a fundamental part of the culture of each tribe,” the resolution states. “State Question 777 would prohibit the Oklahoma Legislature from passing laws necessary to protect the lands, lives and farms of Oklahoma citizens.”

One of the clauses of the declaration also cites an overarching responsibility to protect the land, air and water. The last item is vital to appreciate why the tribes entered the political fray, said Sara Hill, secretary of natural resources for the Cherokee tribe.

“All businesses have good actors and they have bad actors. … We have a history in this state of seeing practices that are not necessarily good, and they do go unchecked,” she said. “We need a Legislature that can step in and take action when it’s needed. Not just for the things we see now, but for things in the future we can’t predict, when they realize there’s a lot of harm to our environment due to those practices.”

Brus also spoke to Rep. Chuck Hoskin of Vinita. Hoskin, who serves as the minority whip in the House, is also the chief of staff of the Cherokee Nation. Hoskin voted in favor of sending the issue to a vote of the people, but said he is personally against the Constitutional amendment.

“How I feel about the subject and how I voted to allow the people of Oklahoma to decide the issue are two different things. … I’ve thought about this for a long time,” Hoskin said. “While I don’t feel like I can support 777 as an individual, I still have to let the people of this state have a voice in it.”

That’s telling. Even though the legislature approved a resolution sending SQ 777 to a vote of the people, the measure may not have the overwhelming support of those who have thought the most about the issue.

The people will get their say in November. Unfortunately, if SQ 777 passes, it may be the last time we get a voice on issues relating to our water, our land or our rights.

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