Oklahoma

Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: Policy to People

State, Tribal Water Negotiations “Moving in the Right Direction” With No End in Sight

Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby

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Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby

Everyone involved in the water-rights lawsuit between the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations and the State of Oklahoma is tight-lipped.

And getting updates on whether any progress has been made toward determining who has control over the water in much of southeast Oklahoma isn’t easy.

A federal judge issued a gag order early on in the negotiations, which have been extended five times.

But the Associated PressSean Murphy was able to get at least a little bit of info out of tribal and state representatives:

When asked about ongoing negotiations with state officials over the lawsuit involving the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations, Chickasaw Gov. Bill Anoatubby said: “I have hope for the future.”

“We have hope that it will be resolved timely,” Anoatubby said. “I think it will be something for the benefit of both the tribes and the state. We’re looking at long-term sustainability for the asset, proper allocations so that the people in southeastern Oklahoma and the state of Oklahoma can benefit from its resources.”

It’s been a long process, and Chickasaw Nation representative Brian McClain says there’s no rush, even two years in:

“We’re after a long-term solution, so you don’t try to put a time frame on anything you’re trying to do long term,” McClain said.

Gov. Mary Fallin’s spokesman, Alex Weintz, told the AP “The governor is optimistic these negotiations are moving in the right direction and will result in a resolution that is fair to all Oklahomans.”

Those are all pretty basic platitudes, but it’s more than StateImpact could get out of the tribal and state governments when the case’s fifth stay was issued in May.

The Choctaw and Chickasaws claim the 1830 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek gives them control over the water across 22 southeastern Oklahoma counties. The tribes sued after Oklahoma City tried to purchase more water storage rights in Sardis Lake, and the state approved.


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