Muscogee, Cherokee Nation leaders disappointed with decision
Chiefs of the Muscogee and Cherokee Nation voiced their displeasure with a decision to suspend a cross-deputization agreement with a state agency.
Last week, the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) Police Department sent notices to the tribes stating the cross-deputization agreements with the tribal police departments were suspended immediately, “to be consistent with the other agencies of the State of Oklahoma which have cross-deputization agreements with tribal police departments.”
“The Grand River Dam Authority Police Department, however, is not taking any action to terminate the cross-deputization agreement,” the letter from the department stated. “The Grand River Dam Authority will reevaluate these Commissions after the task force created by Governor Stitt’s Executive Order 2023-32 issues its recommendations concerning uniform cross- deput izat ion agreements.”
Section 7(I) of the Int e r g ov e rnme n tal Cross-Deputiza- tion Agreement Between the United States, the Cherokee Nation, and Political Subdivisions of the State of Oklahoma authorizes a Commissioning Agency to suspend or revoke an Officer’s commission for reasons solely within the Commissioning Agency’s discretion…We look forward to a continued cooperation between our departments.”
On Friday, chiefs of the Nations issued statements regarding the suspension: Muscogee Nation Principal Chief David Hill: “The suspension of this agreement is not the result of any problem with the cross-deputization agreement. Instead, this is a dangerous political ploy driven by Governor Stitt’s desire to undermine tribal jurisdiction at the expense of the most vulnerable Oklahomans. Our Attorney General met with the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) officials on December 22, 2023, where they expressed enthusiastic support for the benefits of working together under our cross-deputization agreement. They even began planning training events to make others aware of how well it worked.
“Since that time, the GRDA has moved to suspend this agreement pending the outcome of Governor Stitt’s planned task force. Given the absence of any substantive issues related to the GRDA commission, we are left to conclude that the suspension of this agreement results from pressure from Governor Stitt and his campaign to undermine the sovereignty of tribes and deteriorate public safety. It is beyond reprehensible for Stitt or any agency to play political games with the safety and well-being of Oklahoma citizens. We believe it is misguided to suspend any commission immediately. Violent criminals and those who harm others will not suspend their criminal activities, and there should be more police on the streets to address them, not less. Public safety is our priority, and the Muscogee Nation will continue to respond to all calls for assistance and actively protect the public as consistent with all laws.”
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.: “Grand River Dam Authority’s actions today, under pressure from Governor Stitt, create barriers where none existed and undermine public safety on some of our major waterways, Grand Lake and Lake Tenkiller, among others. Governor Stitt has spent more than three years pressing phony claims of chaos on tribal reservations with no basis, in fact, deciding to create chaos to fit his narrative.
“We have had nothing but a positive working relationship with GRDA. There is no reason to revoke the commission cards of our hard-working men and women of the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service. Governor Stitt’s actions not only undermine public safety but are insulting to the Cherokee Nation.
“Moving forward, and most importantly, we will continue to provide indispensable law enforcement services across our reservation, including utilizing other cross-deputization agreements in place and our exercising our inherent sovereign rights across the Cherokee Nation Reservation.”
The Muscogee Nation also rejected participating in the Governor’s Task Force on Tribal Jurisdiction.
Muscogee Nation Chief Hill stated that, “as a matter of principle, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation welcomes any opportunity for collaboration to improve the public safety for all Oklahomans.
Unfortunately, the Governor’s task force on McGirt is based on a false premise and seeks misguided political objectives through a structure intended to divide rather than unify. This task force cannot adequately serve the public good unless these flaws are corrected. We cannot participate in any endeavor aimed at weakening tribal nations and, by extension, harming public safety.”