This past week, the Quapaw Nation became aware of an incident involving a Tribal citizen in Oklahoma driving a vehicle with a Tribal license plate. Our understanding is that as part of a traffic stop for a speeding violation, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol (“OHP”) also issued a $249 traffic citation for failure to pay Oklahoma state taxes on the motor vehicle driven by the Tribal citizen. According to OHP, because the Tribal citizen lived outside the Tribe’s jurisdiction, she was required to pay state motor vehicle taxes.
The Quapaw Nation is unaware of this having ever occurred in the 20+ years that Oklahoma Tribes have issued tags to Tribal citizens/members of their Nations regardless of residence.
This act of discrimination against Indian people by Oklahoma Governor Stitt, is a clear attempt to force Tribes to compact with the State, through the use of State police forces.
It is not illegal to be Native American in the State of Oklahoma.
The Nation is paying close attention to this situation and would like to remind Tribal members that an officer must have reasonable suspicion that an offense has been committed in order to stop your vehicle. Simply having tribal plates, as long as they are validly issued and up to date, is not enough.
As always, please obey all posted and nonposted traffic laws, and be vigilant as the 39 Tribes in Oklahoma endure these continuing challenges with the State of Oklahoma.