By Fus Yvhikv
Me and Fixico are headed downtown to the annual Tulsa Powwow. We are riding in Fixico’s rez car. It is a 1963 Plymouth Belvedere 2 door hardtop. The car’s claim to fame is that it has a push button transmission. The pushbuttons are arrayed horizontally on the dashboard. There are buttons for Drive, Reverse, Neutral, First and Second gears. It appears the Reverse gear has been selected yet somehow, we are moving forward.
“Get a move on willya? You drive like an old lady,” I say to Fixico.
“Bugger off, willya? We are going through a school zone,” Fixico says.
“It’s summertime. School’s not in session,” I reply. “And what’s with the bugger off? Have you suddenly become an Englishman?”
“School’s out? Do kids today ever go to school? Still best to be safe rather than sorry when driving through a school zone.”
“Dude! You drive like my grandma. Get a move on or we’ll miss Grand Entry.”
Suddenly Fixico’s radio comes on. You never know when his radio is going to work. The radio has trouble picking up signals due to the car’s lack of an antenna. Technically the car does have an antenna, but it is a wire coat hanger that has been duct taped to the hood of the car.
A radio announcer states that there is breaking news. He says that the 10thcircuit court of appeals has ruled that the city of Tulsa does not have authority to issue speeding citations to tribal citizens. Fixico and I listen intently.
The announcer goes on to state that in the case of Hooper v. City of Tulsa, Justin Hooper, a Choctaw citizen, was issued a speeding citation by the Tulsa Police Department in 2018. Hooper paid a $150 fine. Subsequent to the 2020 U. S. Supreme Court ruling in McGirt that declared the Muscogee Creek reservation was never disestablished, Hooper filed suit against the city of Tulsa averring that Tulsa had no authority to cite him for speeding.
The federal district court ruled against Hooper citing the authority granted to Tulsa under Section 14 of the 1898 Curtis Act. Hooper then appealed the district court’s decision to the 10thcircuit. The appeals court reversed the decision of the district court.
The 10thcircuit noted that when Tulsa re-incorporated the city in 1907 under newly admitted state of Oklahoma laws that the city relinquished authority over Natives granted under Section 14 of the Curtis Act. The 10thcircuit court’s ruling not only invalidated Tulsa’s authority to issue speeding tickets to Natives but also stated that none of the municipality’s ordinances apply to tribal citizens.
Me and Fixico are mesmerized by the news. Shock and awe is a better description. Fixico pulls his rez car over on a narrow street as we try to process this stunning news. Angry honking from a car behind us awakens us from our stupor. Fixico stomps on the accelerator and the recalcitrant car wheezes and coughs as it limps ahead.
“Did we hear that correctly? Tulsa can’t ticket Natives for speeding?” I ask.
“Can that be true?”
A text comes through on my phone. A friend is forwarding a meme issued by Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt. The meme shows a speed limit sign. The meme reads, Speed Limit 75, Tribal Speed Limit 100.
“Ha! It is true. Even Gov. Bullstitt says that speed limits don’t apply to Natives!”
“Speed limit? We don’t need no stinking speed limits,” Fixico says as he again floors it.
Fortunately we had just crested a large hill. The rez car gathers steam as we descend. We quickly hit 85 miles per hour.
“Yee haw!” we exclaim as we stick our heads out of the windows.
“I’m king of the world!” Fixico yells into the strong headwinds.
“Fixico! You are about to run a red light!” I shout above the rushing winds.
“What stop light?” Fixico says.
“That one! The one you just ran through!”
“Nothing can stop us now!”
Flashing red lights appear behind us. It’s Tulsa PD. Fixico attempts to look in the driver’s side mirror. It suddenly ripped off the car by the fierce headwinds. At that moment, the car begins to list to the right and the back of the car dips toward the pavement. A bouncing tire skips by us on the right side of the car.
“Hey! Isn’t that one of your bald tires?” I ask.
“Doesn’t look like mine.”
“Yes, it is. I can see your red duct tape on it.”
“Jesus!” we both scream.
The car smashes into one of the many potholes in Tulsa’s streets. It flies high in the air, does a 360-degree spin, and comes down hard on its chassis. The remaining three wheels pop off as the car slides down the street. The rez car comes to a halt next to a speed limit sign.
“License and registration,” the police officer demands.
“License and registration?” Fixico says. “We don’t need no stinking license and registration. We’re ‘skins and your laws don’t apply to us.”
Me and Fixico laugh gleefully. We would have driven off but the rez car was without wheels. The police officer hands Fixico a speeding ticket. The ticket is from the Muscogee Nation, not the city of Tulsa.
“What?” Fixico meekly asks.
“It’s called cross-deputization. The Muscogee Nation has empowered Tulsa PD to issue traffic citations to Natives. Take that puppy to the tribe and pay the $500 fine,” the officer says with a chuckle.
“Jesus! It’s not the lawless wild west out here after all. Gov. Bullstitt is wrong, yet again,” I say.
“Jesus is right! No more speeding through Tulsa!” Fixico laments. “Looks like I”ll have to keep driving like an old lady.”