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Water Settlement Agreement Speech

Water Settlement Announcement                  8/11/16

Good Afternoon.  I am Robert Henry, President of Oklahoma City University, former Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, and also former Attorney General of Oklahoma.  I was also privileged to serve at the request of all parties on the citizen’s advisory committee to work on the matter we shall discuss today.

Today is a historic day in the State of Oklahoma.

Chief Pushmataha, the “Indian General,” a legendary Chief and leader of the Choctaws, as well as the also legendary Chief Tishomingo of the Chickasaws, who “led by example,” would be very pleased with the cooperation and resolution of the important issues we discuss today.  Both of these great leaders fought under the flag of the United States as allies and friends in the War of 1812, and significant real estate in Southeast Oklahoma bears their names.

And on this day, I would imagine that the late Oklahoma Governor and U.S. Senator Robert S. Kerr is specially smiling on us.   Because his vision, his dream, his leadership, which began in the 1950’s, Oklahoma became an example to the nation for how to successfully develop and manage our state’s water resources for the good of all Oklahomans.  Land, Wood, and Water was his book detailing that dream. And that dream continues today with a new group of visionary leaders who are undoubtedly creating their own legacies today.

Because today, we are again an example to our nation, that cooperation and unity achieve so much more than conflict and division.

I am proud to announce to you that the State of Oklahoma, the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, and the City of Oklahoma City have reached an Agreement that settles long-standing water disputes, establishes a framework for future cooperation and conservation, and provides certainty for water resource management within the tribes’ historic treaty territory in south-central and southeast Oklahoma. 

The leaders you see before you: Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, Chief Gary Batton of the Choctaw Nation, Governor Bill Anoatubby of the Chickasaw Nation, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, and Oklahoma City Manager Jim Couch are here to represent the achievements of their respective governments to reach this historic agreement that not only solves problems of the moment, but will also have lasting impact far into the future for generations of Oklahomans.

We are here today to not only celebrate this momentous achievement, but to provide you with information about the agreement, and especially to answer your questions from several of the experts who have been working diligently the past five years to find solutions that are a win for every Oklahoman.

Before those legal and scientific experts who have been gathering around the mediation table for the past five years join us to answer your questions, each of the leaders I named would like to make a brief statement.  After these statements, we will bring out a panel of those who had day to day involvement with crafting this settlement who will also emphasize its key points and later take detailed questions.

We will begin with Governor Mary Fallin.  Congratulations, Governor…