Tulsa-based Unit Corp. is in a legal battle with an American Indian tribe in Washington state that has claimed sovereignty over an oil and gas lease in Beaver County.
The Kikiallus Nation in January presented Unit with documents from its tribal court threatening to invalidate the company's lease and transfer Unit's right as operator to tribal affiliate TMI Ministries, according to documents filed with the Western District Court of Oklahoma.
Unit has denied the tribe's claims and asked the district court to intervene.
“Our arguments are several,” Unit General Counsel Mark Schell told The Oklahoman. “The lease never expired. We continue to own it. We have no idea how they claim to own it. We don't know who they are. It is not a recognized tribe. It is not a recognized tribal court. It has no jurisdiction over anything in Oklahoma.”
Phone calls and emails to the Kikiallus Nation and TMI Ministries were not returned.
The Kikiallus Nation is listed with the Washington State Office of Indian Affairs as a “non-federally recognized Indian tribe.” Kikiallus is affiliated with the Stillaguamish and Swinomish tribes, which are both federally recognized.
TMI Ministries is listed as a nondenominational religious organization based in Olympia, Wash. Kurt Weinreich is listed as executive director. The organization has the same phone number as Kurt's Amazing Roof and Gutter Cleaning, which has a different Olympia address.