Supremes to Stitt: You Lose!

The Oklahoma Supreme Court announced their ruling against Governor Stitt in Treat v. Stitt. (Shutterstock)

OK Court announced ruling in Treat v. Stitt

by Meredith Johnson

OKLVHOMV CITY, Oklv.- The Oklahoma Supreme Court announced their decision in Treat v. Stitt on April 2. The ruling found that the Oklahoma state legislature has the authority to make tribal compact negotiations. The unanimous ruling also clarified that the legislature can lawfully override the governor’s veto during special sessions. 

Stitt filed the case last year against Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat and House Speaker Charles McCall after a legislative veto override occurred during a special session. The legislature had passed bills on several existing tribal compact agreements over license plates and tobacco sales during the regular session. Stitt then vetoed the compacts at the end of the session, and in order to override the vetoes the legislature called a special session.  

Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief David Hill made the following statement, “We’re pleased to see that the Oklahoma Supreme Court saw past baseless claims and affirmed the authority of the state legislation when it comes to compacts. Unfortunately, these futile political maneuvers have delayed opportunities to work collaboratively as governments. And it’s a shame that millions of dollars in taxpayer monies have been wasted on unproductive litigation. Hopefully, the future holds a willingness to respect our sovereignty, the law, and move forward with the reality that we can collaborate in respect and good faith for the betterment of all.” 

Governor Stitt said in a statement following the announcement, “Now that we know that tribal governments can go to the Governor or the Legislature to negotiate compacts, I hope the Legislature agrees with me that we need to collect from every tag that drives on our toll roads. Regardless of the outcome of this case, Oklahoma knows that I am a Governor that is going to stand up for fairness for all four million Oklahomans.”

State Attorney General Genter Drummond who represented the Legislature in the suit echoed remarks made by tribal leaders and issued a statement after the ruling, “Gov. Stitt has repeatedly abused his office to wage baseless legal battles against our Native American tribes, wasting millions of dollars in state resources. This ruling makes clear that the Governor’s compacting authority is statutory only, subject to intervention by the Legislature when the Governor fails or refuses to act in the best interest of all four million Oklahomans.” 

In a press conference on April 4, Treat made the following remarks, “…the Stitt litigation went down 9-nothing, I know he said he was glad to have clarification, but we were all pretty clear, the House and Senate knew what the law was, the Attorney General knew what the law was, and nine justices knew what the law was already. Now we have that behind us we can actually move forward. I am, actually, got some hope now that he’s made some agreements with some of our tribes. Now we can turn a page and be glad to have that behind us. That was frivolous litigation.”

Choctaw Casino & Resort – Durant nominated for Academy of Country Music Casino Theater of the Year 

The Grand Theater inside Choctaw Casino & Resort – Durant, OK

Winner to be announced in Nashville in August 

(Durant, Okla.)- The Grand Theater inside Choctaw Casino & Resort – Durant was nominated for the Academy of Country Music’s “Casino of the Year – Theater” award.  

The Grand Theater has taken home this award twice in the past. The 2024 ACM Awards will take place on Thursday, May 16 with Choctaw Casinos & Resorts as the official casino sponsor

Established in 1966, the Academy of Country Music Awards is the longest-running Country Music awards show and made history in 2022 as the first major awards ceremony to exclusively livestream, in partnership with Prime Video. This year’s show marks its return to Texas for the second consecutive year after the 2023 show was one of the most watched awards shows of the year.  

“It’s an honor to be nominated for this award,” said Jeff Penz, senior director of casino operations at Choctaw Casinos & Resorts – Durant. “Choctaw Casino & Resort – Durant is one of the premier tour stops for the top country music entertainers in the industry, and we strive to elevate the concert experience every year. We continue to find new ways to make the Grand Theater a special place for both fans and performers, and we’re thrilled to be recognized by the Academy of Country Music for that effort.”  

The Grand Theater is a 3,000-seat venue that draws crowds from across Oklahoma and Texas for top-notch performances from big names and exciting up-and-comers. Exciting acts scheduled for 2024 include: Three-time ACM award winner Ashley McBryde, one-time ACM award winner Jon Pardi, two-time ACM award winner Kelsea Ballerini, one-time ACM award winner Brett Young and two-time ACM award winner Sam Hunt. 

Other nominees for the Academy of Country Music “Casino of the Year – Theater” award include:  

  • Deadwood Mountain Grand –Deadwood, SD 
  • Foxwoods Resort Casino –Mashantucket, CT  
  • Lucas Oil Live at WinStar World Casino and Resort –Thackerville, OK 
  • Resorts World Theatre at Resorts World Las Vegas –Las Vegas, NV 


About Choctaw Casino & Resort in Durant, Okla. 

Located an hour north of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, Choctaw Casino & Resort – Durant is a AAA Four Diamond casino resort, entertainment and convention destination in southeastern Oklahoma. The casino has more than 7,400 slot machines, table games, a poker room, and a large non-smoking casino.  The resort offers more than 100,000 square feet of meeting and convention space and seats more than 3,000 at the Academy of Country Music (ACM) award-winning Grand Theater. The resort also includes more than 1,600 luxurious rooms and suites, 20 restaurants, 21 bars and lounges, six retail stores, two fitness centers, a spa, and two outdoor pools and a water park. The family-friendly District offers guests 20 bowling lanes, a 6-screen premier movie theater, 70 arcade games and dining options. Additionally, guests can enjoy the Choctaw RV Park located across from the casino. For more information, visit


About the Academy of Country Music       

Founded in Southern California in 1964 as a regional trade organization, the ACADEMY OF COUNTRY MUSIC (ACM) has grown in the almost-60 years since into a leading association for the Country Music industry. Now headquartered in Nashville, TN and boasting record-high membership of more than 5,000 worldwide, the Academy serves as a powerhouse advocate for Country fans, artists, and all facets of the business, as well as a supporter of philanthropic work through charitable partner ACM LIFTING LIVES, dedicated to improving lives through the power of music and providing aid in times of need, with a focus on health initiatives. 2023 was another monumental year for the Academy, with the 58th ACM Awards, hosted by global superstars Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks, ranking as one of the most-watched awards shows of the year. 2024 will see the ACM Awards return in May to the world headquarters of the Dallas Cowboys in Texas for a second consecutive year and stream live for a global audience on Prime Video. The Academy also remains relentlessly committed to creating a more inclusive environment for underrepresented groups in Country Music, from the boardroom to the stage, and proudly presents both ACM LEVel Up, a two-year professional development and enrichment curriculum for rising leaders, and OnRamp, a guaranteed income program for Black members of the Nashville music community, in partnership with the Black Music Action Coalition. For more information, visit or      

Chief Hoskin, Speaker Shambaugh sign expansion of Council Special Infrastructure Fund

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Council Speaker Mike Shambaugh on April 15 signed a memorandum of understanding adding $1.7 million to the Council’s Special Infrastructure Fund, boosting a program that has already poured nearly $14 million into local road, bridge and community projects at the direction of individual members of the tribe’s legislative branch.

Action paves way for $1.7 million expansion of $15 million fund

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Council Speaker Mike Shambaugh on April 15 signed a memorandum of understanding adding $1.7 million to the Council’s Special Infrastructure Fund, boosting a program that has already poured nearly $14 million into local road, bridge and community projects at the direction of individual members of the tribe’s legislative branch.

“When Speaker Shambaugh, Deputy Chief Bryan Warner and I discussed a special infrastructure fund for Council members back in 2021, we knew it could be some of the most impactful dollars spent,” said Chief Hoskin. “History has proven this correct and has shown the need for even more investment.”

In 2021 the Council approved the first Respond, Recover and Rebuild Plan to allocate the tribe’s federal COVID-19 response and recovery funds into priority areas. Infrastructure was among those priority areas, totaling more than $64 million in total funds allocated or spent for projects to date. The funding source is largely from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

Chief Hoskin, Speaker Shambaugh and Deputy Chief Warner worked together in 2021 to establish a $15 million fund allocating $1 million in infrastructure dollars per Council district within the reservation for the period ending fiscal year 2024.

Since 2021, Council-driven projects range from roads and bridges to water system upgrades to improvements and new construction of public facilities and related amenities. To date the Council has spent nearly $14 million of the $15 million fund.

Monday’s expansion reallocates some existing, appropriated-but-unspent infrastructure funds. Each district will receive $100,000 for additional infrastructure projects, spent at the request of the district Council member. Additionally, each at-large Councilor will have the ability to direct $100,000 each to projects outside the Cherokee Nation.

“Having served on the Council, I know that these are some of the best dollars we can spend because Council members know their districts,” said Deputy Chief Bryan Warner. “An additional $100,000 helps pave a road, speed repairs in a rural water district, remodel a community building or any number of projects a Council member may identify.”

Speaker Shambaugh praised the measure as an example of the branches of government working together.

“In a day and age where there is often hopeless conflict within other governments, the Council Special Infrastructure Fund is an example of cooperation within Cherokee Nation government,” said Speaker Shambaugh. “We understand and respect the Chief’s role, but he respects ours and understands that infrastructure is very localized and something Council members must often lead.”

The tribe’s RRR plan has led to historic long-term investments, such as healthcare, education and community facilities as well short-term relief such as citizen relief payments. The RRR plan has also funded dozens of other programs, services and partnerships across the Cherokee Nation Reservation.

The Council Special Infrastructure Fund is in addition to millions of dollars in annual funding largely spent at the direction of or recommendation by individual Council members on a range of areas such as roads and bridges, law enforcement and support for local non-profits and schools.

Lily Gladstone Gets Her Oscar

By Fus Yvhikv

Fixico, Tarpalechee, Yahola, and I scored prime seats at the 2024 Oscar ceremonies. We were mistaken for the Osage singers and given first row seats. Who were we to tell the Academy of Motion Pictures that they couldn’t tell one Indian from another?

Two days earlier, we decided to be part of the Oscar scene and hang around the Dolby Theater. With the Osage singers performing and Lily Gladstone favored to win an Oscar, we knew the place would be crawling with Natives.

We arrived at the venue an hour before the ceremony was to begin. We dressed in our finest rez attire, liberally adorned in beads and feathers. Fixico painted his face with dramatic white and black stripes and was wearing a paper mâché black crow as a hat. He resembles Johnny Depp as Tonto from the Lone Ranger movie.

Outside the theater was a crush of media and news cameras. Movie stars were arriving bumper to bumper in their fancy, stretch limousines as rotating spotlights lit up the nighttime sky. It was an exhilarating atmosphere. We were star struck amongst the glitter. A man wearing a big smile and lanyard approaches.

“Greetings Osage Singers!” the man says.

Me, Yahola, Tarpalechee, and Fixico all look at one other quizzically.

“We aren’t,” Tarpalchee begins before Fixico interrupts.

“Wahzhazhe,” Fixico shouts. “We are excited to be here.”

“We are pleased to host you. Walk this way.”

Fixico imitates his walk. The man opens a side door and ushers us into the cavernous Art Deco theater. Glamorous women in long black dresses and handsome men in tuxedos fill the seats. The man escorts us to the front row.

“Please be seated. A host will come and get you about 30 minutes before your performance. Meanwhile, enjoy the show.”

As front row guests, we were entitled to free food and drink. We took gratuitous advantage of the freebies. Fixico was ordering two drinks at a time while the rest of us ordered enough food to feed an entire tribe.

It was time for the big award, Lead Actress. Since Lily’s nomination excitement had run rampant across Indian Country. We were at the threshold of the first ever Native winner of best actress in a major motion picture. All of Indian Country was swooning with visions of Lily holding the Oscar.

Fixico, with his faux crow hat, was so nervous he begins pacing near the stage steps. He is toking on a doobie. That’s when it happened.

“Hey Johnny! Johnny Depp!”

Jimmy Kimmel, the host of the Oscars was suddenly standing next to Fixico.

“I need a favor Johnny,” Jimmy says. “Will you present the Oscar for best actress? Our scheduled presenter is sick.”

“Uh Johnny?” Fixico meekly replies.

Kimmel grabs Fixico by the arms and pulls him onstage.

“I’m not giving you a choice. Great idea to dress as Tonto. You look like a real Indian.”

“I am a real Indian,” Fixico protests.

“Ha! Me too,” Kimmel replies. “My great-grandmother was a Cherokee princess.”

“Jesus,” Fixico whispers.

Kimmel stands at the podium and addresses the glittering audience.

“And now to present the Oscar for Best Actress, please welcome three-time nominee, Mr. Johnny Depp.”

Fixico approaches the podium as the audience politely applauds. He clears his throat and glances about nervously.

“Uh, the nominees for this year’s award are….uh…are…all actresses.”

The crowd laughs.

“The, uh, nominees this year are Sandy Hollar, and uh, Imma Stoned, plus we have Annette Beginning, and Abby Normal. And finally, Lily Gladstone. Yeah, Go Lily!”

Me, Tarpalechee, and Yahola hoot and holler.

Fixico fumbles with the envelope. He yanks on the back flap and tears the envelope in half. One piece drops to the floor. Fixico retrieves it and pieces the two halves together as the crowd laughs nervously.

“And the winner is,” Fixico pauses for effect. “Imma Stoned!”

Emma Stone walks onstage as the crowd erupts in adoring applause. An aide hands her the golden statue. She proudly holds it high.

“Wait a minute!” Fixico shouts. “There’s been a mistake. I got the wrong envelope.”

Fixico opens another envelope.

“The winner is Lily Gladstone!”

The theater goes silent. Fixico attempts to take the Oscar from Stone. She refuses to let go. Fixico and Stone wrestle for control of the trophy, both have a death grip on it. They fall and roll across the floor. Fixico rips the Oscar from Stone’s bosom.

Security guards confront Fixico. He jumps off stage lands in front of us.

“Come on boys!” Fixico screams.

We dash down the aisle. As Fixico passes Lily he gives her the Oscar.
“You deserve this,” he says.

We escape and Lily gets her well-deserved Oscar.