OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper ticketed a tribal citizen with a current Otoe-Missouria Tribe license plate for failing to pay state taxes, prompting an outcry from tribal leaders who blamed Gov. Kevin Stitt‘s increasing hostility toward Native Americans.
Crystal Deroin, an Otoe-Missouria Tribe citizen, was ticketed for speeding near Enid on Tuesday and received a second $249 citation for failure to pay state motor vehicle taxes because she did not live on tribal land.
“After over 20 years of cooperation between the State and Tribes regarding vehicle tag registration, it appears the State has altered its position of understanding concerning tribal tags,” Otoe-Missouria Chairman John Shotton said in a statement. “This change was made without notice or consultation with all Tribes that operate vehicle tag registration.”
Most Oklahoma drivers pay motor vehicle taxes each year through the renewal of state license plates. But many of the 39 Native American tribes headquartered in Oklahoma also issue special tribal license plates to their citizens each year, based on a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court decision involving the Sac & Fox Nation that says the state doesn’t have the authority to tax tribal citizens who live in Indian Country.
There are entire movements around licensing and taxing people in the interests of public safety, but all of that gets thrown out the window when it comes to the tribes.