Seminole chief: No new oil, gas tax within tribal boundaries

WEWOKA, Okla. (AP) — The chief of the Seminole Nation said Wednesday the Oklahoma-based tribe has no current plans to tax oil and gas production on all land within its traditional reservation boundaries, a move that drew quick praise from the state's attorney general.

Chief Greg Chilcoat said in a statement the tribe has the authority to levy oil and gas production taxes on non-tribal producers operating wells on tribal trust and restricted lands, which has been existing policy.

“At this time, the Seminole Nation has not exerted taxation authority over nonmember oil and gas producers operating on fee simple land," Chilcoat said.

The statement was welcome news to Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter, who had asked the tribe in December to clarify its position after letters demanding payment of Seminole Nation taxes were sent to oil and gas producers operating in the area, including those operating on lands that were not trust land or restricted Indian allotments.

“I appreciate Chief Greg Chilcoat for his statement today clarifying the tribe’s asserted taxation authority over oil and gas producers within Seminole County only extends to those produces operating on Seminole Nation trust land or restricted allotments, and not on any land owned by non-Indians," Hunter said in a statement.

The Wewoka, Oklahoma-based tribe has nearly 18,700 enrolled members and its jurisdictional area is located in south-central Oklahoma, about 45 miles (72.42 kilometers) east of Oklahoma City.

Numerous concerns have been raised about tribal jurisdiction since a landmark decision last year by the U.S. Supreme Court determined that a large chunk of eastern Oklahoma remains an American Indian reservation.