Oklahoma governor meets with tribal leaders over water lawsuit

Details of the meeting at the state Capitol are confidential, a spokesman for the governor says. The closed-door meeting comes after a week of letters publicly exchanged between the governor and the leaders of the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: February 9, 2012
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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 director.

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.