Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed agreements Friday that will allow Cherokee citizens living in all 77 Oklahoma counties to buy a Cherokee Nation license plate.
"This is a historic day for the Cherokee Nation," Chief Baker said. "I am so proud that our Nation will now allow every Cherokee citizen across all 77 counties to display a Cherokee tag on their car or recreational vehicle. By doing so we are strengthening our sovereignty, creating more jobs and lowering the costs of car tags for thousands of Cherokees."
The Cherokee Nation is the first tribe in Oklahoma to offer car tags to its citizens statewide. Two compacts were signed by the Chief and the Governor at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
"Today's agreement is a product of a good working relationship and a mutual respect between the Cherokee Nation and the state of Oklahoma," Governor Fallin said. "In the spirit of that partnership, this new compact ensures that revenues from Cherokee Nation car tags are split between the Cherokees and state and local governments. Local schools, county roads, and other important priorities will benefit from this agreement. My thanks go out to Chief Baker for working with the state and with my office on this important issue."
One compact now allows Cherokee citizens in all of Tulsa, Wagoner, Rogers, Mayes and Muskogee Counties to purchase a tribal car tag at the same rate as in jurisdiction Cherokee citizens have the past 10 years.
A separate compact, covers all other Cherokee Nation citizens living inside the State of Oklahoma. These citizens can now showcase their heritage while potentially receiving an instant rebate from the tribe that would provide savings over the cost of a state license tag.
"We worked with the state for several months to get our Cherokee citizens across Oklahoma what they've been asking for--a tribal license plate," said Attorney General Todd Hembree. "We're extremely pleased that we were able to negotiate a compact that is beneficial to Cherokee Nation citizens and all Oklahomans."
Since 2001, the Cherokee Nation's tax commission has issued license plates to Cherokee Nation citizens. Until now, only those living within the Cherokee Nation's 14-county jurisdiction were allowed to purchase them.
As a sovereign tribal government, the Cherokee Nation provides all the same services state and federal governments provide. The tribe administers government programs for housing, health care, education and other social services. As a government, the tribe also operates a tax commission, levying taxes on its citizens in the form of licenses plates and other goods or services. Within the 14-county jurisdiction, 38 percent of tax revenues from the sale of tribal car tags goes directly to about 90 public school districts each year, with $3.2 million awarded in April. With the compacts, it will now help even more school districts in Wagoner, Tulsa, Muskogee, Rogers and Mayes counties. Outside the 14-county jurisdiction, revenue from the sale of vehicle tags will be distributed to schools, local and county governments in the same manner as state tags.
The Cherokee Nation values its government-to-government relationship with the state of Oklahoma, also holding gaming, tobacco and intergovernmental compacts with the governor's office.
The Cherokee Nation tax commission sold 18,000 tags the first year of the compact in 2001. So far this fiscal year, more than 100,000 vehicle tags were issued. With the compact in place, citizens in all of Wagoner, Tulsa, Muskogee, Rogers and Mayes can buy a tribal car tag approximately Nov. 1, and statewide starting June 2014 from any of the five Cherokee Nation tag offices.