NORMAN — The Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes passed a resolution in support of the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations as they face off with the state over water rights in southeast Oklahoma, the second tribal council to do so in the past several weeks.
The council, meeting together for the first time in six years, passed the resolution and four others at the end of the two-hour session, drawing loud applause from the audience.
And while Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby didn't address the water issue in his public remarks, other leaders at the meeting did.
Gary Batton, assistant chief of the Choctaw Nation, discussed the issue during his remarks Friday.
“The Choctaw and Chickasaw nations do believe that it is our water,” Batton said. “We do believe those are our rights to that water.”
As he went on, Batton described the seal of the Choctaw Nation, which features a peace pipe with a hatchet on the other end.
“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 Chickasaw and Choctaw nations filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Oklahoma in August, seeking to maintain control of the water in southeastern Oklahoma. The suit has been stayed while the two sides continue to work with a court-appointed mediator.