Absentee Shawnee Tribe signs water pipeline settlement

The Shawnee News-Star
Governor John Johnson signs Atoka Water Pipeline settlement
L-R, Michael D. McMahan, Hobbs Straus Dean & Walker; William R. Norman, Hobbs Straus Dean & Walker; Secretary Ezra DeLodge; Representative Alicia Miller; Treasurer Joseph Blanchard

The Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma has a signed a water pipeline settlement agreement.

"Six years ago, the city of Oklahoma City filed several condemnation actions against our Tribe and several of our members to take ownership of lands underlying the Atoka Water Pipeline supplying water to Oklahoma City for more than 50 years," Absentee Shawnee Governor John Johnson said in a statement. "Thankfully, our Executive Committee members at the time stepped in, using the Tribe’s sovereign authority to intervene and stop the condemnation actions against our land owners. Over the course of the next several years, each of our Executive Committees has stood strong to protect our Tribe’s and members’ lands and cultural interests along the Atoka Water Pipeline."

Further, he said, "I am pleased to announce that I have signed off on the Atoka Water Pipeline settlement. This settlement preserves the lands along the pipeline from condemnation by Oklahoma City, secures a payment for affected landowners at 10 times the amount of the appraised value, provides for the protection of important cultural resources and events, as well as requiring the protection of the surrounding environment and encouraging the employment of tribal members for future work along the pipeline easement."

In addition to the unwavering support of the Tribe’s elected officials in recent years, Johnson said the Tribe’s Realty department played a key role verifying and recording important transaction details. Likewise, the Cultural Preservation department identified and confirmed key portions of the pipeline that pass near sacred sites, recommending protections for those locations, including a prohibition on any interruption of tribal ceremonies.

"Our thanks to the attorneys at Hobbs Straus Dean & Walker, who worked diligently on the Tribe’s behalf for the last six years with Oklahoma City, the U.S. Attorney’s office and the Field Solicitor’s office to negotiate the terms of this deal and bring this settlement to completion," he added.