CapitolBeatOK Staff Report
On Tuesday (February 14) lawyers for the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations filed for partial summary judgment in the federal court case the tribes began in August 2011.
Tribal attorneys are asking a federal court to rule that Oklahoma’s stream adjudication statutes do not satisfy federal standards or otherwise reach the relevant questions presented in their lawsuit.
The state had asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to assume jurisdiction over a proposed adjudication of all claimed rights to the use of water in the Kiamichi, Muddy Boggy, and Clear Boggy Basins -- from Ada to the Arkansas state line.
Michael Burrage, attorney for the Chickasaw and Choctaw, asserts,
“The State’s action misses the point. The law doesn’t support them in what they are trying to do, and we believe it’s a distraction. It would be much better for the parties to focus on the forum we’re already in — the only one that has jurisdiction over the federal questions that the nations’ suit has framed.”
Burrage said in a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK, “The nations’ complaint expressly states that it does not and will not disturb existing uses of water made under valid permits. That issue isn’t even on the table.”
The tribes’ lawyers also want a work ruling water resource rights and interests under their 1830 removal-era treaty, subsequent treaties, and other federal laws. They also seek a ruling that the state’s water-use permitting system cannot lawfully authorize the export of waters from a basin subject to federal rights without regard for the certain procedural and substantive protections.