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AM NewsBrief: July 28, 2022

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This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Thursday, July 28, 2022.

Northwest Oklahoma residents to evacuate as fire burns thousands of acres, relief in sight

As drought and extreme temperatures persist across the region, some residents in Northwestern Oklahoma are evacuating their homes as a wildfire continues to scorch thousands of acres.

The fire has been blazing since Monday and has burned around 18,000 acres.

Residents in some areas near Mooreland were issued an evacuation warning Wednesday. Mooreland is about 10 miles east of Woodward.

According to the Enid/Garfield County Emergency Management, the Governor’s office denied several requests for helicopter support to put out the blaze, but eventually gave approval Tuesday, and helicopters arrived Wednesday.

Officials say no homes have been damaged by the fire, but that the nature of the land - mainly canyons full of cedar trees - has made management efforts tough.

The Mooreland fire is far from the only wildfire currently raging in the state. There are more than a dozen active fires burning now in Oklahoma, and over half of the state is under a burn ban. But cooler temperatures and rain are predicted for the end of the week.

Tulsa Public Schools under fire for alleged pornographic books

According to the Tulsa World, Education Secretary Ryan Walters posted on social media screenshots of the graphic novels “Gender Queer” and “Flamer”.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister wants the books removed from the TPS library calling them “inappropriate”.

TPS released a statement saying its library system has nearly a million books which were bought based on national reviews as well as suggestions from teachers and students.

Oklahoma education funding formula being reviewed

Oklahoma’s education funding formula is complicated.

It’s used to determine how much each of the state’s 500-plus districts receive in a billions-worth allocation from the legislature and it has been largely unchanged since its creation in 1981.

Mike Jackson, Executive Director for the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency, thinks that creates problems, stating, “Oklahoma’s outdated funding formula fails to account for the needs of today’s students.”

It’s unclear exactly what lawmakers will do about how education dollars are spent. But it is likely they’ll tinker with how funding goes to public schools in the upcoming session. Equity for the more than 400,000 Oklahoma kids classified as economically disadvantaged will be at top of mind.

Senate tribal hearing

Leaders and representatives of the Five Tribes in Oklahoma testified before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Wednesday in a first of its kind discussion about rights of the Freedmen, citizenship and the U.S. Government's role and responsibility.

Tribal leaders say they are in compliance with their respective 1866 reconstruction treaties with the United States. Jonodev Chaudheri is Muscogee Nation's ambassador.

“The Treaty of 1866 has often been characterized as a reconstruction treaty. For us, it was not. It was a land grab that stripped us of half our reservation by force,” said Chaudheri .

Marilyn Vann, President of the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Tribes Association, spoke to the committee and said that Freedmen were being denied essential services other tribal citizens enjoy and that some action needed to be taken.

“Can the tribes change without congressional and federal intervention? History says no,” Vann said.

Members of the committee say they will be meeting with more descendants of Freedmen in the future. Senator Schatz of Hawaii proposed a Government Accountability Report and more dialogue on the issue.

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