TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation has now signed agreements with 13 city municipalities to donate traffic citation fines the tribe receives back to support those cities in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court McGirt decision.
The July 2020 McGirt ruling and subsequent Hogner ruling would have directed all income from traffic citations of Native citizens made on the Cherokee Nation Reservation to the tribe, rather than the towns in which the citations were given.
However, under a resolution unanimously passed by the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council in May 2021, mayors who sign MOAs with the tribe will have the subsequent funds be allocated back to the towns, with a small portion paid to the tribe.
“We don’t want the cities around us to lose important revenue streams that help pay salaries and improve cities,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “These agreements will help our local law enforcement continue to provide needed policing to our communities.”
The tribe currently has Memorandum of Agreements with the municipalities of Bernice, Gore, Jay, Kansas, Marble City, Muldrow, Muskogee, Owasso, Porum, Vian, Watts, West Siloam Springs and Westville with more towns preparing to enter into agreements.
In West Siloam Springs, the funds from criminal citations are appropriated to its police department for training, uniforms, equipment, and a portion of its payroll.
“It’s a team effort to grow the town and make it as prosperous as possible,” said West Siloam Mayor Rhonda Wise. “We’ve been cross deputized with the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service for quite some time. And it’s been a successful partnership.”
The MOAs will allow municipalities to retain all funds except for a small fee of $30 that will be sent to the tribe, which is equal to the current fee the municipalities remit to the state on traffic and misdemeanor tickets.
“It goes into the general fund for the town,” said Vian Mayor Dennis Fletcher. “It helps the overall budget.”
The Cherokee Nation estimates donating thousands of dollars through the MOAs which will renew automatically each year.
For more information on agreements with municipalities, go to: https://attorneygeneral.cherokee.org/legal-status-of-the-cherokee-nation-reservation/.