Government , Legal

Osage Congress to consider resolution rejecting Gov. Stitt’s proposal

The Sixth Osage Nation Congress will consider a resolution to reject Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s claim that the gaming compact between the Osage Nation and the state must be renegotiated.

The resolution comes after Stitt sent a letter to Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear on Aug. 13 claiming he had already spoken with 13 tribes in their respective communities about renegotiating the gaming compacts tribes share with Oklahoma to operate gaming establishments.

Tribal leaders are standing united in that the original Model Gaming Compact passed in 2004 by the Oklahoma legislature will automatically renew on Jan. 1, 2020. Stitt is arguing that the gaming compacts do not automatically renew, and the compacts must be renegotiated. It has been reported Stitt wants tribes to pay more in exclusivity fees to the state.

“I recommend, if possible and agreeable to the Tribes, that the State and Tribes begin compact discussions on September 3, 2019, or a later date that is mutually agreeable,” he wrote in the letter. “I am designating Attorney General Mike Hunter and his office to be an active leader on behalf of the State in these discussions alongside my office.”

Sept. 3 is also the start date for the 24-day Osage Congressional Tzi-Zho Session, when the Nation’s 12 legislators will consider the Nation’s budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.

According to the resolution filed by Osage Congressman Eli Potts, ONCR 19-19, the Nation entered into the Model Gaming Compact with the state on Dec. 16, 2004, and it was approved by the Secretary of the Interior on Feb. 9, 2005, allowing the Nation to operate Class III gaming machines as provided by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The Nation currently operates seven casinos within the boundaries of the Osage Reservation.

According to a July 23 letter to Stitt from the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, signed by 29 tribal leaders including Standing Bear, the rates under the present gaming compact should not change.

“They represent promises made by the State of Oklahoma and the Tribes,” according to the letter. “Promises we intend to fulfill now and in the future, and we expect the State to do the same.”