Cherokee Nation seeking hunting and fishing compact from Gov. Mary Fallin
The Oklahoma governor's office and the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma soon will be in compact negotiations concerning the state's hunting and fishing regulations, a spokesman for Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said Tuesday.
"Negotiations will soon be underway with the Cherokee Nation on a possible tribal compact about hunting and fishing regulations," said Michael McNutt, spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin. "We have moved from a talking stage to beginning negotiations on a pending compact."
McNutt declined to elaborate, but in 2009 the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma informed its citizens that they did not need state hunting or fishing licenses when hunting or fishing on lands that historically belonged to the Cherokees.
Those lands encompass all or part of 14 northeastern Oklahoma counties, including the Grand Lake of the Cherokees and Tenkiller Lake.
Then Cherokee Nation spokesman Mike Miller told The Oklahoman in 2009 that the tribe had such authority because of past treaties with the U.S. government.
“We had hunting and fishing rights before the state existed and they were never taken away," Miller said at the time. “The Nation still retains those same rights."
The Cherokee Nation, though, was unsuccessful in negotiating a compact for hunting and fishing rights with Fallin’s predecessor, Gov. Brad Henry.
The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission, the governing body for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, met in executive session Monday at its meeting in Miami to discuss "certain potential claims of the Cherokee Nation concerning hunting and fishing licenses," according to the agenda.
After the executive session, Commission Chairman John Zelbst of Meers made the motion for Wildlife Department Director Richard Hatcher to continue communicating with the governor's office on the issue. It passed unanimously without comment.
Wildlife Department spokesman Micah Holmes referred questions to the governor's office on the issue.
Officials from the Cherokee Nation could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
In the past, the Cherokee Nation had only sought state exemptions for hunting and fishing licenses.
The Cherokee Nation previously adopted its own Hunting and Fishing Code, which included the same hunting and fishing regulations regarding season dates and bag limits that currently existed in the state.