Kris Steele: Caddo aboriginal rights “something to be considered” in development of water policy
Oklahoma Speaker of the House Kris Steele believes all interested parties should be involved in development of state water policy. He agreed that the “aboriginal rights”of the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma are “certainly something to be considered” in planning and development. Steele stressed the state should not ignore tribal concerns from “any of the 39 federally recognized sovereign nations in Oklahoma.”
In his reflections on water policy, Steele reiterate the purpose of the committee, which is, first, to study the Comprehensive Water Plan resulting from five years of work at the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, and then, second, to develop the state’s official water plan for the next generation. He said the plan developed by OWRB “is not the be-all and end-all,” and noted it has already received criticism.
Steele is “not interested in political games,” and said that critics of the plan were included on the panel he named in cooperation with Senate President Pro Temp Brian Bingman of Sapulpa. Steele disclosed he called Choctaw Chief Ed Pyle and Chickasaw Gov. Bill Anaoatubby before the start of this summer’s water hearings to brief them. In the end, Steele said, “My hope is to negotiate a “win-win” for every one involved. I know that in the past the tribes have not always been happy. So, I reached out.” The Shawnee Republican stressed, “it is the governor’s responsibility to conduct negotiations.”