Tribes in Oklahoma are celebrating as a new law takes effect impacting tribal land.

“Before statehood in Oklahoma in 1907 Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Seminole Creek nations had territory that were set forth in treaties this was our land subject to our jurisdiction,” says Chuck Hoskin Jr., Cherokee Nation Secretary of State.

But that quickly changed for all 5 tribes with a federal law taking effect in 1947 “the Stigler Act.”

“Said that this allotted land which is also known as restricted land if it was passed down to a generation that was less than 1 half Indian blood quantum that it suddenly lost that special character it had at statehood,” says Chuck Hoskin Jr.

The land was special to the tribes because it excluded them from state jurisdiction and taxation. President Trump signed a bill on Monday making changes to the act. 

“It’s hurtful I know people whose parents were half blood, and that they were less than half blood, they were a quarter blood and suddenly this land that could be traced back to before statehood and they could trace back to the allotment era that they can say this is Indian land be stripped away from them,” says Hoskin Jr.

Since the 1900’s about 15 million acres of land has been lost, and now there is only about 380,000 acres left. So, representatives from the tribes have been meeting with Congress to ensure no more land of theirs is lost. Hoskin adds the efforts of the intertribal council resulted in this legislative change

“First of all telling our story to members of Congress that we are a source of hope and strength and progress in Northeast Oklahoma. This has been tried before and this time we failed and this time we succeeded,” says Hoskin Jr.

Hoskin adds the tribes hope to present more bipartisan strategies to Congress to help address issues they face.