NORMAN (AP) — The Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes has passed a resolution supporting the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations in their dispute with the state of Oklahoma over water.
The two tribes filed a federal lawsuit against the state in August, seeking to maintain control of the water in southeastern Oklahoma. The lawsuit, which seeks to bar the state and Oklahoma City from transporting water from the region, is on hold while the two sides work with a court-appointed mediator. A report on mediation efforts is due by July 20.
Fallin’s office and an attorney for the tribes say they are prohibited from discussing the mediation talks because of confidentiality provisions of the court’s mediation order.
The Oklahoman reports that the Inter-Tribal Council approved the resolution during a meeting Friday in Norman.
“The Choctaw and Chickasaw nations do believe that it is our water,” said Choctaw Nation Assistant Chief Gary Batton. “We do believe those are our rights to that water.
“If people try to take things from our tribal members, we’ll turn that (peace pipe) over and we’re ready to fight at a moment’s notice,” he said. “And that’s what we’re having to do right now with the state of Oklahoma.”
The resolution is the second in recent months in support of the tribes. The Kiowa, Comanche and Apache Inter-Tribal Land Use Committee came out in support of the tribes’ lawsuit in March in a letter stating that Oklahoma agencies have no authority over tribal water rights.
“This matter is a U.S. government to American Indian tribes matter,” according to the letter.