This is Huuuuuge!!
As I’m sure many of you have already heard, it was announced yesterday that the Chickasaw Nation, the Choctaw Nation, Oklahoma City and the State of Oklahoma reached agreement on the lawsuit that began five years ago in response to the plan to move water out of Sardis Lake without consultation with the tribes or recognition of their historical interest in the water within their tribal boundaries. As we heard some of the details of this agreement discussed yesterday during the press conference, a couple of key points are worth repeating. (The details of the settlement agreement can be found here.)
In most parts of the country, Indian water rights settlements have historically taken decades to resolve. The fact that this suit was still in what most water law experts would consider its infancy, having only been filed five years ago, and yet was able to be resolved in such a short period of time, speaks to the commitment of those involved to look at the larger picture of what’s best for all Oklahomans, rather than standing in their own corners and screaming about their own interests.
The agreement provides for continued economic growth in and around the Sardis Lake region by ensuring sustainable lake levels in times of both rain and drought, as well as protecting environmental flows in the Kiamichi River, which supports tourism in the area. While people may flock to Oklahoma City for sporting events and the urban lifestyle for a weekend away, people also flock to Southern Oklahoma for different reasons. Whether it’s to put a hook in the water, a kayak in the stream, or to watch the fledgling bald eagles, Southern Oklahoma is a vacation destination for many folks across Oklahoma and beyond. As the third largest industry in Oklahoma, both forms of tourism are equally valuable and vital to the state.
It doesn’t take long for those of us like myself who are not tribal members to realize and appreciate that living within the boundaries of either the Chickasaw or Choctaw Nations holds an enormous benefit. Their commitment to their Nations and their members benefits each and every person within their tribal territories.
For nearly two decades, the Chickasaw Nation has stood beside CPASA and its members to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Arbuckle Simpson Aquifer. These types of collaborative partnerships will ultimately ensure that when we all work together to consider the broader picture and think beyond the end of our driveway, EVERYONE wins.