Inter-Tribal Council approves resolutions on HB1775, ICWA, telehealth, hunting and fishing

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DURANT — Members of the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes unanimously passed multiple resolutions to address critical matters of sovereignty and cooperation.

The Council approved a resolution calling on the Oklahoma Legislature to repeal House Bill 1775, which had the stated intent of prohibiting educational curriculum or activities that imply any individual should feel discomfort on account of his or her race or sex, among other provisions.

However, the Resolution notes the vague wording of the law has contributed to fear among school districts and teachers about teaching accurate historical information, including accurate history of the experiences of Native American peoples in Oklahoma. Additionally, HB1775 threatens to derail the progress Tribes have made in recent years to provide an accurate history of the United States and Oklahoma’s complex relationship with Native Americans.

“Ignoring difficult pieces of history because they may cause some ‘discomfort’ is dangerous and does a disservice to students who should be taught history through documented facts and accurate portrayals of the time periods being studied,” the Resolution states. “Accurate historical education is essential for Oklahoma public school students to understand present conditions and avoid repeating past mistakes, especially when it comes Native Americans and other groups who have experienced historical injustice.”

Another approved resolution supports the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), which will be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Brackeen v. Haaland.

“ICWA is the gold standard of child welfare policy, and it is a foundation of Indian law,” the Council said. “Now more than ever, it is imperative for Indian Country to speak with a unified voice in support of one of the most important pieces of federal legislation impacting Indian tribes, communities, and families. ICWA is a pillar of sovereignty, and it must be fiercely protected.”

Members of the Council, including leaders of the Five Tribes, reminded Members of Oklahoma’s Oct. 14 deadline for voter registration and encouraged all Members – and other state residents – to vote in November’s elections.

The Council agreed to create the Five Tribes Wildlife Management Working Group, which will organize and implement effective intergovernmental engagement with State and Federal agencies. It is also expected the Working Group will allow Members with a hunting or fishing license from one Tribe to take part in those activities on another Tribe’s land.

“The precious right to hunt and fish was secured by our ancestors, and we must secure them for our descendants,” the Council said.

The Council also passed a resolution urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to make permanent waivers allowing Indian Health Service (IHS) Tribal hospitals to bill for hospital outpatient services furnished remotely to Medicare beneficiaries.

“Making these waivers permanent will support telehealth efforts and allow IHS and Tribal hospitals to collect the true cost of providing health care for our patients in the most effective way,” the Council said.

Additionally, the Council approved a resolution supporting the creation of the Ocmulgee National Park & Preserve in Georgia’s Bibb, Twiggs, Houston, Bleckley, and Pulaski counties. The designation would preserve 80,000 acres in conservation under the National Park and Preserve status.

The Inter-Tribal Council’s next scheduled meeting will take place Jan. 11-13, 2023, and will be hosted by the Seminole Nation.

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