Stressing safety for Osage tribal members and his disappointment in Gov. Kevin Stitt’s relentless attack on tribal sovereignty, Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear confirmed the Nation is working on a tribal tag compact to ensure tribal members can continue using their Osage Nation license plates.
“Osage Nation is going to write a tribal tag compact which would keep the same process and protections as we now have. We will not be surprised if Governor Stitt refuses to accept this compact. We also will be showing this compact to Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond and to the Oklahoma State Senate and House,” Standing Bear said. “Attorney General Drummond has stated in our phone conversation with him that the tribal attorneys from the various tribes, including Osage, may submit our proposed compact to his office and he would work with the tribal attorneys on the legal issues.”
Standing Bear said compacts are political documents and there are, at present, spaces for political cooperation with the Oklahoma legislature and the Attorney General of Oklahoma. He said they will also be monitoring the new lawsuit filed by the Muscogee Nation and any other lawsuits that may be filed.
On Nov. 15, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Tulsa, arguing that Tulsa police are ticketing Native American drivers within the tribe’s reservation boundaries despite a recent federal appeals court ruling that they lacked jurisdiction to do so.
Standing Bear said he is continuing to work with the Nation’s elected leaders, ON Attorney General Clint Patterson and ON Tax Commissioner Jennifer Oberly on the issue.
“Governor Stitt and his administration has changed decades of how the state and tribal nations do things with car tags. The Osage Attorney General and the attorney for the Osage Tax Commission [Wilson Pipestem] are working on these matters and they also will advise if filing a lawsuit in federal District Court is a recommended course of action,” he said. “I would prefer the Osage Congress and I be presented with a car tag compact which is acceptable to the principles of our Osage Constitution.”
Below is the Osage Nation Tax Commission’s official statement regarding Osage Nation Motor Vehicle Tags:
The Osage Nation Tax Commission (“Tax Commission”) is aware of the situation caused by the abrupt and unannounced change in policy by the State of Oklahoma towards tribal tags. Please know we are working diligently to resolve the issues surrounding the Nation’s motor vehicle tags by working with the Office of the Chiefs, the Speaker of the Osage Nation Congress, and the Office of the Attorney General. In light of recent events regarding Osage Nation’s motor vehicle tags, we offer the following guidance:
- It is our understanding law enforcement officers are not and cannot pull over members of the Osage Nation simply for displaying an Osage Nation tag. The law enforcement officer must have reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop. Therefore, as always, we strongly encourage all Osages and drivers of Osage Nation registered motor vehicles to obey all traffic laws.
- Under current U.S. Supreme Court law, members of the Osage Nation whose vehicle is registered with the Osage Nation and whose driver’s license address is within the Osage Nation Reservation are in full compliance and not subject to any state action for their vehicle registration.
- Members of the Osage Nation whose vehicles are registered with the Osage Nation but whose driver’s license address is outside the Osage Nation Reservation are at risk to be cited by a state officer for operat[ing] a vehicle without proper license plate . . . or on which all taxes due to the state have not been paid.” 47 O.S. § 1511(A)(5). .” This is a civil citation and subject to a $249.00 fine.
- If you are stopped and receive a warning or are cited for this violation, please contact the Osage Nation Office of the Attorney General at (918) 287-5514 or email a copy of the warning or citation to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Tax Commission will continue to issue tags and renewals until the overall issue is resolved.
The Osage Nation is considering a number of options to resolve this attack from the Governor of Oklahoma, including whether a compact with the State of Oklahoma would be in the best interests of the Nation and the Osage people. It is disappointing the State has chosen to no longer respect and recognize the Osage Nation’s sovereignty after twenty-five (25) years of collaboration, especially given the amount of money and benefits the Osage Nation contributes to the benefit of all of Oklahoma. The Tax Commission is dedicated to serving our Osage people, and we will continue to work with our elected and appointed officials toward a resolution.
If you or someone you know receives a ticket for their Osage Nation license plate, contact the ON Attorney General’s office at (918) 287-5514 or email them at AttorneyGeneralOffice@osagenation-nsn.gov.