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Okla. Tribes Encouraged to Contribute to Future of Water Use (Aug 31, 2011)
OKLAHOMA CITY - State lawmakers have issued invitations to Native American tribes in Oklahoma to attend a panel studying the future of the water usage. As KGOU’s Kurt Gwartney reports, the co-chair of the committee acknowledges the move comes late.

State Sen. Brian Crain says delays on his part meant that tribal governments were not invited to send a designated representative to meetings of the Joint Legislative Water Committee until after it started its work on August 17. He says the committee mailed a letter to each of the federally recognized tribes in Oklahoma after its inaugural meeting, but have only received a single response.

Crain says even if Native American governments send someone to the meetings, their role would be limited.

"We are not suggesting that they be asking questions and treated like a committee member," Crain said. "Were we to do that, we would increase our membership from 16 to over 50 on a committee; at that point it becomes unwieldy. If they want to work with a committee member to ask questions, we certainly want to get the input of the tribes, we just need to coordinate it."

The Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations filed a federal lawsuit the day after the committee’s first meeting, seeking to stop a water use permit that would let Oklahoma City control water in the Sardis Reservoir in southeast Oklahoma.


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