Front row: Cherokee Nation Speaker of the Council Mike Shambaugh, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., Verdigris Mayor Keith Crawford and Cherokee Nation Attorney General Sara Hill. Back row: Cherokee Nation District 14 Councilor Keith Austin, Chief of Staff Corey Bunch, Verdigris Police Chief Jack Shackelford, Delegate to Congress Kim Teehee and Verdigris Police Lt. Lance Jensen.

VERDIGRIS, Okla. — Leaders of the Cherokee Nation met with representatives of the Town of Verdigris on Tuesday to sign a Memorandum of Agreement that acknowledges the tribe’s intent to donate revenue from traffic citations back to the municipality.

Verdigris is the 24th municipality within the Cherokee Nation Reservation to sign such an agreement with the tribe, ensuring the town does not lose funding sources after the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt ruling and the 10th Circuit’s recent Hooper decision.

The Town of Verdigris will collect fines from traffic tickets given to tribal citizens and keep all but $30.

“In the wake of the historic McGirt decision and the recent Hooper decision, Cherokee Nation will continue to choose cooperation with our local partners over conflict. We recognize the importance of local law enforcement agencies and how critical they are to public safety – that’s why we have cross-deputization agreements with every law enforcement agency across our 14-county reservation area.” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “Along with those cross-dep agreements, we also have signed two dozen agreements with municipalities across the reservation since the McGirt decision to help ensure local communities do not lose out on critical funding for services and operations. Our agreement with the Town of Verdigris marks the 24th we have signed, and we look forward to continuing to work together to jointly protect tribal citizens and everyone living on our land. These are the kind of tangible solutions needed in Oklahoma, and we hope more leaders join the Cherokee Nation and other tribal nations in that pursuit.”

Under the agreement, the Town of Verdigris will be able to retain fees and fines associated with traffic offenses committed by Native Americans in the form of a donation, in recognition and exchange for the policing and administrative functions provided by the municipality.

“We’ve always been good neighbors with the Cherokee Nation, and the Cherokee Nation has always been a good neighbor to us,” Verdigris Mayor Keith Crawford said. “We’ve worked on numerous projects with them before, and we’re happy to partner with them once more going forward.”

Every policing agency within the Cherokee Nation Reservation has a cross-deputization agreement with the Cherokee Nation allowing for the continued enforcement of laws, including traffic violations. Most of these agreements have been in place for decades.

“One of the reasons this agreement is important between the Town of Verdigris and the Cherokee Nation is that it’s going to help streamline our court process,” Verdigris Chief of Police Jack Shackelford said. “Tribal citizens in Verdigris now have a more convenient option. If they get a traffic citation and don’t want to drive to Tahlequah for tribal court, we can settle it here and save them a lengthy trip.”

Other towns to sign municipal agreements with Cherokee Nation to retain, in the form of a donation, the fees and fines for traffic citations issued to Native Americans include Adair, Bernice, Chelsea, Colcord, Foyil, Gore, Hulbert, Jay, Kansas, Locust Grove, Marble City, Muldrow, Muskogee, Owasso, Porum, Pryor, Salina, Vian, Vinita, Warner, Watts, West Siloam Springs and Westville.

Chief Hoskin said that across the 7,000-square-mile Cherokee Nation Reservation, citizens of tribal nations are subject to Cherokee Nation laws relating to a variety of matters, including public safety laws.

“Irrespective of whether we have an agreement of any sort in place in any particular community within our reservation, it is important to understand that Cherokee Nation has a comprehensive criminal code substantially similar to the State of Oklahoma’s code,” said Chief Hoskin. “This means that wild and irresponsible claims that tribal citizens are not subject to traffic laws are simply false.”

Tuesday’s formal signing between the Cherokee Nation and the Town of Verdigris follows a recent 10th Circuit court ruling in the Hooper v. City of Tulsa case, which reaffirmed that state and municipal agencies do not have jurisdiction over municipal violations committed by tribal citizens within tribal reservations.