Monday, July 29, 2019

Killers of the Flower Moon II: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt Wants to Steal from the Indians Again

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt - French fried pataters.

But in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes...and when Indians get something, white men will come take it.

When whites invaded this land, they started taking and haven't stopped taking. That's especially true in Oklahoma. As the tribes here have started to thrive and gain wealth in modern times, a new round of white men have shown up to take it away from them.

They're being led by a shady businessman, who became the governor of Oklahoma and immediately started plotting how he could get his hands on Indian money.

It's a story straight out of a B-western with a black hat-wearing villain named Kevin Stitt riding into town and looking to swindle the Indians. 

The Land Grab, Dawes Commission, statehood in 1907, assimilation schools, and even marrying Osage women so that you could murder them and take their land are some of the things white men have done to take what isn't theirs in Oklahoma. Be it land, natural resources, or children, when a white man wants something he'll do anything to get it.

Gov. Kevin Stitt is such a white man.

Whites robbing Indians has a long history, tribes such as the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole, and Cherokee (known collectively as the Five Civilized Tribes) had their traditional homelands taken away from them in the Southeastern United States. They were put on a Trail of Tears and given land in Indian Territory, which became the State of Oklahoma after most of the land given to Indians was taken back and given to whites.

It was under the Indian Removal Act of 1830 that the forced relocation began. It became known as the Trail of Tears due to the brutal and harsh journey. As many as half of the 17,000 Cherokee forced on the journey, died before ever making it to Indian Territory.

Expanding West, white settlers demanded even more land, so the U.S. government started relocating the tribes in that part of the country, such as the Comanche and Kiowa, to Indian Territory where land was taken from the Five Civilized tribes and given to other tribes.

Despite pushing so many tribes - Oklahoma has 39 federally recognized tribes - into the territory, they decided to do a land grab for whites. Thus began the Land Run in 1889.

1889 Land Run - White settlers rush into the territory to take possession of Indian lands.

What was once considered tribal land was divided into allotments with Indians maintaining possession of very little of it.

Director Ron Howard, who was born in Duncan, Oklahoma - that being traditional Chickasaw land - made heroes out of the white invaders participating in the Land Run in his movie Far and Away starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.

The movie poster says "What They Needed Was A Country Big Enough For Their Dreams."

In reality, that meant taking Indian land and making it their own. Their prosperity meant Indians would suffer. The story is based on the Land Run of 1993.

The Land Runs, there were a few of them, were devastating to the tribes trying to eke out an existence on hostile land.

The Five Civilized Tribes were used to farming fertile land in the South. They had no experience with the harsh red dirt in the state they were forced to move to. But, as Indians do, they learned to work with the land.

A mountain of buffalo skulls
The Indians brought from the West and North were predominately nomadic hunting tribes. Many traveled with the great buffalo herds to feed their tribes. However, the railroad companies brought the buffalo to near extinction, which brought starvation to the Indians.

In Indian Territory those relocated tribes found very little game to hunt.

As they adapted to the new land and developed farming techniques to feed their tribes, the white men came in during the Land Runs to take the prime farming lands.

The white man attempts to farm Oklahoma would contribute to destruction of the land and to the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression. Their farming practices were unsuitable for the land and created vast soil erosion. Add in a drought and strong winds and everyone suffered greatly.

Indians learned to adapt to the land. The white settlers didn't. So this happened.

The white man had taken the land and destroyed it. Indian way is to adapt to nature, while the white way was to control nature. Indian way is to honor the land and protect the water. White way is to ravage the land and poison the water.

They should've done it the Indian way.

More great evils were conducted against Indians to take even more of the little land remaining to them.

Among whites profiting off stolen Indian land
include television personality Ree Drummond.
The book Killers of the Flower Moon recounts how the FBI originated with their investigating the murders of Osage women.

In the 1920's white men schemed to wed land-owning Osage women. They would marry them, take ownership of the land, and then kill their wives. They wanted the rich reserves of oil beneath those tribal lands. And they got them.

The book suggests hundreds of Osage died during this malevolent time.

As you enjoy watching The Pioneer Woman on television, just think that much of the land the  Drummonds of Osage County claim for their massive 433,000 acre ranch was siphoned down from land grabs and murdered Osage women.

A Martin Scorsese movie about the Osage murders has started production with Robert DeNiro and Leonardo DiCaprio leading the cast.

During the time of the Osage murders, the Indian population was around 220,000. Before the white man came, Indians numbered in the tens of millions. The impact of removing women and preventing child birth, even in small numbers, was catastrophic.

Later, from the 1960's to 1980's, Native American women were forcibly sterilized around the country, including in Oklahoma. That would cost the Indians nearly half a generation.

Right beneath everyone's eyes, the United States government was committing genocide on Indians by preventing them their right to reproduction. This wasn't long ago. This was in our time.

Others were lost and traumatized as Indian children were forcibly removed from their homes and taken to residential schools where they were taught to be white. Mainly, they were beaten, raped, and exorcised of their Indian culture.

Despite having almost everything taken away from them, the Indigenous People of Oklahoma managed to survive and eventually prosper.

Thus, it was time for white men to come take it all away from them again.

This time Gov. Kevin Stitt has his greedy eyes on casino revenue brought in by the tribes, who have invested their own money to build on what little remains of their sovereign lands.

A little about the businessman turned governor...

Born in Florida, John Kevin Stitt was raised by his pastor father in Norman, Oklahoma.

Norman, which lies in the boundaries of the Chickasaw Nation, is known for the University of Oklahoma, which itself is known for their Sooner football program.

Boomer Sooner!

That call has its roots in the land grab thefts previously mentioned.

Boomer is the term for the white settlers that demanded the federal government take Indian land and give it to them.

Sooner comes from shady people who snuck in before the official Land Rush of 1889 to claim the prime pieces of real estate. The Land Run meant you lined up and when the shot rang out you rushed to stake your claim on the opened up Indian land.   

Stitt became Oklahoma governor back in January after being endorsed by President Donald Trump and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum.

Prior to entering politics, he had founded Gateway Mortgage Group. Stitt campaigned that he wanted to apply his business practices to running the State of Oklahoma.

Some would say Stitt's business practices are rather shady.

The governor's company was banned for life from origination mortgages in Georgia. After coughing up money to the state, Gateway was allowed to do business there again.

Business Insider named Stitt's company one of the 15 shadiest mortgage lenders in America.

When applying to do business in Wisconsin, Stitt failed to reveal past problems with state banking regulators resulting in a $4,000 fine.

Prairie pirate Stitt follows a long, long line of those coveting Indian wealth. We've seen his ilk before. Like the ones coming before him, he's going to lie and cheat to get what he wants.

Indian tribes in Oklahoma entered into gaming compacts with the state despite sovereignty rights that suggest individual nations, as the tribes are, cannot be controlled by state governments.

Still, the tribes chose to help the state by turning over a portion of their gaming proceeds.

Supposedly, that revenue was to go to helping out Oklahoma schools, but, like with most things in the state, it never actually improved schools, as the Republican-controlled legislature just kept reducing general revenue funding to education.

That sleight of hand, ended up placing Oklahoma in the bottom ranks of education. By 2017, the Sooner State was 47th in educational quality

There was plenty of money available for education, but between Republican governors and legislators major malfeasance ruled the day.

Oklahoma is a major energy producer. Large corporations control the natural resources taken away from Indians. Oil barons have deep pockets and control the state's treasury.

One of the ways the barons use the legislature is by directing them to keep the gross production tax low.

The Oklahoma Policy Institute describes this as, "The gross production tax, or severance tax, is a value-based tax levied at a basic rate of 7 percent upon the production of oil and gas in Oklahoma (the tax rate is lower when oil and gas prices fall below a certain threshold). Under legislation approved in the 2017 special session (HB 1010xx), oil and gas from newly-spudded wells will be taxed at 5 percent for the first 36 months of production effective June 27, 2018. Previously, new production was being taxed at 2 percent for 36 months. One percent of gross production tax revenues is divided between counties and school districts, with the remainder going to the state."

In comparison, other states charge energy companies a much higher gross production tax, as well as property taxes. That has allowed those states to prosper.

To appease the Oklahoma energy corporations, state republicans find ways to suffocate services. In order to pay for some services the legislature robs education and the money meant to be going to it.

Unwilling to raise the gross production tax further, Oklahoma has to find revenue elsewhere.

So, they've come to rob the Indians again. They want more of the gaming revenue and the governor is intent on getting it. 

In early July, Stitt sent out a money-grab letter to tribal leaders.
When I took office as Governor of the State of Oklahoma in January, one of the first matters of which I was apprised was the upcoming termination of the Tribal-State Gaming Compacts. As I believe you are aware, Part 15 Section B of the Compact referenced above, provides in part that the Compact shall expire on January 1, 2020. Moreover, since there has been no governmental action of the State, or court order authorizing electronic gaming in the State, since the effective date of the Compact, I have been advised that the Compact will not automatically renew. Therefore, I believe it is necessary, prudent, and in the best interests of the State of Oklahoma and the [Nation/Tribe] to begin negotiating the terms of a new gaming compact as soon as reasonably practicable.  
Accordingly, pursuant to Article 6 of the Oklahoma Constitution, 74 O.S. § 1221 C.1., and Part 15 Section B of the Compact, I am hereby requesting that we renegotiate not only the terms of Subsections A and E of Part 11 of the Compact, but the rest of the terms of the Compact as well. Obviously, because of the January 1, 2020, termination date, it is imperative that we reach an agreement and obtain the approval of the Department of the Interior prior to the end of 2019, so that the [Nation/Tribe] may continue to lawfully conduct certain class III games in Oklahoma after that date.
Stitt wants to raise the 6-10% tribes currently pay to 20-25%. Further, he claims the Oklahoma entities pay the lowest rates in the nation, which is just not true.

Tribal leaders are calling him out on the Bullstitt.

Having a long history with white men wanting Indian wealth, tribal leaders expressed their dissatisfaction.

Governor Bill Anoatubby of the Chickasaw Nation responded to Stitt with, “The Governor’s position, as stated in his editorial and letter, came as a surprise to us. A position of this significance warrants respectful and purposeful conversations, particularly given the complexity of the compact and the law. We are evaluating the Governor’s letter and will consider our options. We have always placed a high value on the partnership we have enjoyed with the state of Oklahoma. This constructive relationship has benefited the economy and the citizens of Oklahoma. It is our hope to preserve this positive partnership so we can continue to work together for the betterment of our state.”

Governor Reggie Wassana of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes responded to Stitt as well.
The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes have read the notice to the tribes for renegotiating the gaming compact. The initial intent of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 (IGRA) was to support the development of tribal economies. Since the passing of State Question 712 which authorized Class 3 gaming in Oklahoma, our Tribes have paid the state of Oklahoma around $50 million in exclusivity fees and all of the Tribes in Oklahoma combined have paid more than $1.2 billion in exclusivity fees to the state of Oklahoma.

The Tribes bore the financial risk and built all of the infrastructure and facilities to build casino gambling in Oklahoma while the state has been fortunate to reap the rewards without any investment or risk on its part. The Tribes use every penny of its gaming net revenues to provide for our tribal members, to operate our tribal government, to fund tribal programs and to assist our surrounding communities. 
Although the Tribes are certainly open to Governor Stitt's request to negotiate new terms for a gaming compact, our view is we do not feel that taking away from our tribal members services is the best option for the Tribes. Any negotiations that involve raising the fees would be detrimental to the Tribes and does not protect the interest of our Tribal government. 
As we have always done and will continue to do, our Tribes invest in our futures and stabilize the neediest of elders to maintain a decent quality of life. We invest in our children. Our investment far outweighs the investment that may or could be offered through the Governor's plan. As the language of the compact implies, if no new compact negotiations are agreed upon between the Tribes and the State, the current Compact shall automatically renew for successive additional fifteen-year terms. The language of the law should prevail.”

In a recent opinion piece published in the Tulsa World, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt said “Today, most state-tribal compacts around the country provide for exclusivity fees to the state of 20% to 25% [emphasis ours]."

That's a flat out lie.

He didn't misspeak. He lied. Shady B-western villain Stitt lied. Imagine that.

The governor of Oklahoma flat out lied.

To address Stitt's speaking in a forked tongue, Stephen Greetham, Chickasaw Nation general counsel, told the Tulsa World, " of June 2015, only 14 out of 276, or 5% of the tribal-state gaming compacts across the country, provided rates that high."

"The most common tribal-state gaming compact rate is zero, Greetham said. Some 107 of the 276 compacts, or 39%, have a payment of zero. The majority of compacts, 56%, have a rate of less than 10%. [emphasis ours]"

The State of Oklahoma has a long losing streak, when it comes to providing services for its citizens. Money doesn't get to education, roads, hospitals, or empty bellies. It just floats back into the hands of the energy barons that destroy the land, as they try to suck every last drop of oil they can out of it.

On the other hand, when the state's tribes started prospering through various business ventures, including with gaming revenue, they began employing tens of thousands and not just Native Americans either. Combined, the tribes make up the largest employer in the state.

According to Cherokee Chief Bill John Baker, "Through self-determination, tribes have prospered in business and rebuilt government institutions. As of 2017, tribes had a nearly $13 billion economic impact on the state, according to a new study commissioned by the Oklahoma Tribal Finance Consortium. In that year, tribes directly employed more than 50,000 Oklahomans and indirectly supported over 96,000 jobs."

The profits tribes make are poured into educational and health services to benefit tribal members. They're used to fund roads, buy fire trucks, build water and sewage systems that benefit all citizens.

The State of Oklahoma and its corrupt leaders, like Stitt, do not know how to serve the people. The Indigenous, however, have proven they know how to spend the money they make and everyone benefits from it.   

Stitt is just another land-grabbing varmint with dollar signs in his eyes.

It's time the tribes stop negotiating with men of bad faith. Their word is no good. There are piles of broken treaties and compacts already that prove their corruption and bad intent.

Stitt wants to break another treaty.

Well, he needs to circle the wagons, because this time the Indians are ready to fight and put an end to the machinations of greedy white men.

Leaders of the Five Civilized Tribes met in council and are ready to do battle with the governor.

Indians are experienced in battling the schemes of greedy men. They know when to put down the peace pipe and grasp the tomahawk.

Stitt has no understanding of the power and wealth this council has built.

He will now have to deal with an Indian confederacy that can make this Stitt's Last Stand.

Media Contact
Amanda Rutland
O: (918) 732-7615
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes (ITC)  provided a unified, formal and firm response to Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt’s recent repudiation of the Oklahoma Model Tribal Gaming Compact through a joint resolution signed by the leaders of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole Nations.  The Tribal leaders unanimously agreed and adopted the resolution at the Inter-Tribal Council meeting today at the River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa, Okla.
The ITC is an organization that unites the tribal governments of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek), and Seminole Nations.
Leaders of all five nations, which collectively represent more than 750,000 Native people, jointly signed the resolution outlining a clear and strong response to Governor Stitt’s letter dated July 5, 2019, proposing the Tribes negotiate a new Class III gaming compact.
Tribal leaders expressed their disappointment in the action by Gov. Stitt to take a matter of such great importance to the media before engaging in respectful and purposeful conversations given the complexity of the compacts and the law.  The ITC memorialized through the joint resolution their collective intent to reject the state’s attempt to unlawfully and unilaterally terminate the compact.
The gaming industry has become a significant driver of Oklahoma’s economy, employing over 55,000 Oklahomans, primarily in rural areas, and paying more than $1.5 billion in exclusivity fees over the past 15 years, mostly for public education. In response to the exclusive fee arrangement outlined in the compacts, Tribes have invested hundreds of millions of those dollars into education, roads, health care, public safety, and tourism to support the betterment of our state for the benefit of all residents.  The tribes’ investments have allowed the state to channel tax revenue to other high priority needs.
During Friday’s general session of the ITC, the tribal leaders detailed the extensive legal history and complexity surrounding gaming compacts and highlighted the current compact, which was approved by Oklahoma voters on November 4, 2004, and approved by the U.S. Secretary of Interior.
The tribes also detailed their concerns that Gov. Stitt made no proposal of any terms, nor presented a framework, for any renegotiation. That noted, the ITC pledged their support for the continuation of the exclusive fee structure and amounts outlined in the current compact. They underscored their confidence in the legal reality that the compact does not expire, but in fact renews on January 1, 2020.
Joint Statement from the Five Tribal Leaders:
“We have considered the state of Oklahoma a trustworthy partner through the years. Working together we have made strides in building a better, stronger and more prosperous Oklahoma for the benefit of the hundreds of thousands of members of our Tribes who live and work here as well as all residents of this great State.  We can trace the starting point of our constructive partnership to the carefully crafted and balanced approach represented in the current compact negotiated in a respectful manner between the State of Oklahoma and the sovereign Tribes residing in Oklahoma. This compact represents a continuing and mutually beneficial partnership. The recent action of Governor Stitt puts into question his sincerity to work with us in a cooperative manner moving ahead. We are resolute in our position, and it is our hope Governor Stitt and his advisors will not attempt any bad faith interference on the compact which could set back the progress we have achieved by working together.”
 Bill John Baker, Principal Chief, The Cherokee Nation
Bill Anoatubby, Governor, The Chickasaw Nation
Gary Batton, Chief, The Choctaw Nation
James R. Floyd, Principal Chief, The Muscogee (Creek) Nation
Greg P. Chilcoat, Chief, The Seminole Nation

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