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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 Published: February 9, 2012

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.


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