No doubt OKC and OWRB picked the fight, never acknowledging Native water rights or returning calls. The tribes file suit, and Fallin gets to play victim and defender of water rights for all Oklahomans, by which she means her well-heeled, silk-stocking Chamber buddies who covet the precious resource to fuel unwieldy generic sprawl where people can enjoy a lush green lawn in historic drought.
Travel to southeastern Oklahoma; take in the natural beauty. The locals must be relieved the Choctaws and Chickasaws now have the wherewithal to put up a fight.
No one in OKC made the water — it’s the dammed Kiamichi watershed in historic tribal lands. Now that water has become the 21st century oil and T. Boone Pickens has West Texas ranchers and farmers actually asking the feds to step in because he’s buying up land over their aquifer, water is big money.
Tribal chiefs aren’t denying OKC’s rightful Sardis usage. They also want their rights recognized as per, “in possession of lands of their own which they shall possess as long as the grass grows and water runs.” At the time, Indian Territory wrongly was said to be a desert, the perfect spot for Andrew Jackson’s Indian ghetto.
Attorneys for OKC are nooking every arrow in the quiver: tribal sovereignty, surface water rights still under French and Spanish common law as per terms of the Louisiana Purchase, and channeling the creep that pitched a sack of garbage at the Indian elder’s feet in the classic TV spot.
It’s argued aboriginal water rights are not a factor because tribes took the Trail of Tears to get to Oklahoma. I don’t know about all that, but if you revere nature, wish the two nations well in protecting their heritage.
—David Orr, Norman