Update from Chief Batton: Aug. 17, 2020

Updates from Chief Batton

McGirt v. Oklahoma

The McGirt case is one that is historical, and it will likely change the way our Nation functions from this point forward. That is just one of the many reasons I strongly advocate slowing down and weighing all our options. This will give us time to get all the details of the case so that we are all educated and make the best decision for our Tribe.

One aspect of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling which I see misunderstood pretty often on social media is the scope of the case. Many folks believe it involves all Five Tribes, including the Choctaw Nation. It doesn't at this time. The court's ruling makes clear that it only pertains to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Because of the similarities among the Five Tribes, it may someday apply to us, too. But not yet. Something will need to trigger such an extension—either a court case filed in a lower court or congressional action.

As I said last week, I don't favor a rush to congressional action; however, if someone proposes legislation then I will be at the table to represent our interests. For more detail, take a look at our story about McGirt from August's issue of Biskinik. It lays out the details—it's been a long and winding road getting this far—and my column on page two does the same.

We're not sure when something will trigger the extension of McGirt beyond the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in such a way that it directly impacts us. As I mentioned last week, I've pulled together a McGirt Task Force to begin unraveling all the many ways McGirt could affect us. That was the first step. My second step was to approve $2 million dollars in funding to help us prepare. We'll use it to fully establish our law enforcement, child welfare and judicial capabilities to meet all the responsibilities which may come to us as a sovereign government. Since McGirt doesn't apply to anybody but the Creeks, we've got time to ramp up and prepare.

I'd like you all to be as knowledgeable about McGirt as possible. If you haven't already, I hope you'll consider reading the Supreme Court's ruling. It isn't boring at all! Parts of it are almost poetic, and some of the language is beautiful. If you have time, watch the video/audio recording of the argument, which was done by telephone due to the pandemic. A transcript is available if you'd rather read it.

2020 U.S. Census

Sometimes it's easiest to see what an outsider, looking in, says about our operations… in this case, our preparations for the 2020 U.S. Census. Our efforts and partnerships with the state and federal governments have been considered so groundbreaking and sophisticated that we've been featured in a number of national news stories. The latest story is by Native Sun News Today. Notice that they embed one of our Census TV commercials, featuring people who may be well known to many of you!

If you haven't filled out your Census yet, I encourage you to fill it out. Every time a person fills it out, an additional $3,900 will go to your local schools and counties for road improvements for the next ten years! Let everyone know that you are proud to be Choctaw and to be counted as such!

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