Tribal outcry deafens Stitt’s “community impact forum”

Collaborator: Brittany Harlow
Published: 07/14/2021, 4:22 AM
Edited: 07/15/2021, 2:59 PM

(TULSA, Okla.) Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt shut down his “McGirt v. Oklahoma Community Impact Forum” an hour early Tuesday night, following an hour of hostility voiced by tribal members in the audience. 

The forum, originally scheduled at the C o x Business Center from 6 to 8 p.m., featured a panel of state and federal law enforcement and prosecutors. The lack of tribal representation was one of the key grievances audience members communicated. 

Officials said they had reached out to the tribes. Chief executives from four out of the Five Civilized Tribes told the Tulsa World last week they distrusted the event’s intent.

Scores of Native Americans united with a march ahead of the event, including the Muscogee, Cherokee, and Seminole tribes. Once inside, tribal citizens packed the house and did not hold back. 

Each panelist was given three minutes to share their concerns, goals and aspirations relating to last year’s landmark decision, in which the Supreme Court ruled the tribal reservations had never been disestablished and thus the state had no jurisdiction over the tribes regarding crimes committed on their land. 

The outcry intensified when Stitt began to read questions from the audience that highlighted shortfalls in the tribal governments and their constitutions, as well as that of the federal government, compared to the state. Audience members even accused Stitt of writing the questions himself. 

Questions called out by audience members remained unanswered. 

Watch a recording of the forum here.  

This story is a part of the Oklahoma Media Center’s Promised Land collaborative effort, which shows how the landmark McGirt v. Oklahoma decision will affect both tribal and non-Indigenous residents in the state. It is a project of the Local Media Foundation with support from the Inasmuch Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation and the Democracy Fund.


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