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Seminole Nation is asked to stop trying to tax oil companies

December 16, 2020 GMT

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter asked the Seminole Nation to stop sending oil and gas companies notices that they are subject to taxes in the tribe’s “jurisdictional area.”

This action by the tribe has reinforced fears that members of the Five Tribes will assert civil jurisdiction in the wake of a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court involving a convicted child rapist within the Creek Nation’s historical boundaries, that the Creek reservation was never disestablished, The Oklahoman reported.

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The Court of Criminal Appeals is expected to affirm recent state court rulings that the reservations of the other four tribes were never disestablished.

“Sending letters to every single operator in Seminole County, regardless of whether the Seminole Nation has specific grounds for asserting jurisdiction over that operator, can be seen as an attempt to intimidate those engaging in productive economic activity within the county to pay taxes and fees that the Seminole Nation has no jurisdiction to levy,” Hunter said in his letter sent Friday to a tribal official and Seminole Nation Chief Greg Chilcoat.

Hunter also asked tribal officials to send letters withdrawing their previous notices within seven days to all operators they contacted in Seminole County.

Hunter noted it was unclear whether the Seminole Nation was claiming jurisdiction within its historical boundaries, which includes most of Seminole County, or just on land that had been taken into trust for the tribe by the federal government.

State Sen. Zack Taylor, a Seminole Republican who is a partner in a family oil and gas operation, said he was “disappointed that the Seminole Nation is continuing to push their own version of a Gross Production Tax. An additional 8% GPT would be devastating to Seminole County.”

Seminole Nation officials and an attorney for the tribe did not respond to requests for comment by The Oklahoman.