Talks between Gov. Mary Fallin, Chickasaw Governor Bill Anoatubby and Choctaw Chief Grey Pyle are to remain secret, a spokesman for the governor said.
“We are bound under the terms of the mediation agreement not to discuss the contents of that meeting,” said Alex Weintz, Fallin's communications
The tribes filed a lawsuit in August that asks a federal judge to stop the state's plan to sell water storage rights to Sardis Lake to Oklahoma City.
The tribal leaders met with Fallin in her office, Weintz said.
Neither Anoatubby nor Pyle were seen Monday when Fallin gave her State of the State speech to lawmakers to open this year's session. They've attended her speeches in the past; the only tribal leader seen and recognized during Fallin's address was Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief George Tiger.
In her speech, she asked legislators to appropriate $5 million for the state attorney general's office to pay for additional legal costs if a federal lawsuit filed by the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations over water rights is not resolved.
Anoatubby and Pyle issued a joint statement after Fallin's speech saying they continue to hope the tribes and the governor can work together to resolve differences.
On Tuesday, they sent a letter to Fallin saying the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations will not drop a water rights lawsuit they filed against the state last year until a “reasonable resolution” has been reached. The letter explained their reasons for the continued litigation and stressed they want to work through the mediation process.
They said stream adjudication isn't a necessary response to the lawsuit filed by the tribes, which Fallin claimed in a letter she sent last week to Anoatubby and Pyle. Fallin called upon the tribes to drop their lawsuit.
Stream adjudication is the process of determining the water rights of an entire river system.
In December, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board gave its attorneys authority to sue in order to begin adjudicating the Kiamichi River, Muddy Boggy stream and Clear Boggy stream systems — the waterways at the heart of the dispute.
The federal lawsuit filed by the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations claims the water rights in question are provided to them in treaties signed in the 1800s. The tribes also say the state would be violating federal law by adjudicating the waterways in southeastern Oklahoma.