Update from Chief Batton: Aug. 4, 2020
By Chief Gary Batton

Updates from Chief Batton

The Gaming Compact with the state sounds like a win for us. Is it?

Yes, it is! It was a great day for the Nation that the court's ruling affirmed our position that our Gaming Compact renewed automatically on January 1, 2020. We are grateful the issue has been resolved, and it assures we can continue Gaming without any interruptions so we're ready to put it behind us.

Does the McGirt ruling mean that the Choctaw Nation will become a reservation?

No — not automatically. The Supreme Court's ruling in McGirt is specifically about the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and no other. It says the Muscogees' treaty territory has been a reservation since at least 1866, and remains one today. The decision does strengthen the Choctaw Nation's position that it is, and has always been, a reservation. In order for the court's decision to apply to all Five Tribes, something will need to trigger the change — there will need to be confirmation by a Court Order, a compact or agreement, or Federal Legislation.

Does the Choctaw Nation have a stance on the agreement-in-principle? Many things I read say you are in agreement.

First off, there was never any agreement to sign. The document should be called a "framework," not an "agreement." If it were a true agreement, I would not sign it. As a framework it makes sense, because it serves as a point of discussion, and the end result is that we want to explore options other than legislation first, such as compacts, agreements, or resolution by Court Order (as in pending criminal and civil cases) to be proactive for when we do officially become a reservation.

We recently bought property in Latimer County (in District 6). Is there a mechanism to notify the tribe that this land is owned by Choctaws?

No. As I mentioned in my earlier answer, the Supreme Court's decision applies only to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Nothing, really, has changed for us here in the Choctaw Nation. The McGirt ruling is about jurisdiction and not about land ownership. For example, the United States has jurisdiction over all of the U.S. even though they do not own all of the property, so if we do become a reservation it should not impact ownership of land.

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