The Choctaw Nation answers questions about the Sovereignty for Strong Communities Commission the Nation formed following the Supreme Court's decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma.
1. What is the purpose of the commission?
The purpose of the commission is to explore the opportunities that could make the lives of our tribal members and the communities they live in better, said Sovereignty for Strong Communities Commission Chair, John Hobbs. Additionally, the purpose is to pull together subject matter experts on five key areas (see below) of expected impact, conduct assessments and provide leadership with best practices and recommendations for the future of tribal governance within the Choctaw reservation.
2. Who is on the commission and how often do they meet?
There are numerous people on the commission, virtual meetings usually include 25-30 participants. The five key areas are Indian Child Welfare, Judicial, Public Safety, Regulatory, and Taxation. The leads for these sub-committees are Executive Director of Special Services Lari Ann Northcutt, Chief Justice David Burrage, Executive Director of Public Safety John Hobbs, Senior Director of Environmental Tye Baker, and Senior Policy Analyst Joshua Riley. The committee meets every two weeks.
3. Who do they communicate with for information on potential outcomes and will there be a conclusion?
Commission members, especially the leads, were selected both for their subject matter expertise and their experience working with tribal members, state agencies, elected officials, and local municipalities. We are maintaining open lines of communication with tribal and non-tribal partners because we believe we can accomplish more for our communities together.
There is no deadline set for the committee to conclude as the work of the commission will be an ongoing process of evaluating the changes that the Supreme Court decision will bring to the Choctaw Nation.
4. Which cases are the commission tracking with potential McGirt impacts? Which one will go first?
Our legal team is monitoring several cases within our reservation since the McGirt decision, and is communicating with local courts and attorneys to provide accurate and consistent information about our reservation status. We believe it will be November before there are cases that will impact Choctaw Nation more directly.
5. What are potential outcomes/impacts?
At this time, it is too early to know or predict many of the potential outcomes and impacts. The commission is focusing on Indian Child Welfare, Judicial, Public Safety, Regulatory, and Taxation as priority considerations.