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PM NewsBrief: Jan. 20, 2023

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Friday, Jan. 20, 2023.

Court rules Kickapoo Reservation was disestablished

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals says the historic Kickapoo Reservation was disestablished.

According to the Associated Press, the court’s decision involves the case of a Seminole citizens challenging his state conviction on four counts of lewd acts with a child.

The ruling agrees with a lower court’s decision stating the reservation had been ceded back to the United States in 1897 with land allotments and cash payments to tribal citizens.

Under the agreement, each of the estimated 300 Kickapoos at the time were allotted 80 acres of land and cash.

Bill to end straight party voting

The deadline to submit bill proposals ended this week - and what lawmakers care about is becoming clear. One of those bills looks to end straight party voting.

Senate Bill 568 authored by Democratic Senator Mary Boren looks to amend parts of the law to remove straight party voting as well as update language to be gender neutral.

Oklahoma is only one of six states to offer straight party voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some proponents argue it’s a time saving measure, while some critics say the option discourages voters from researching individual candidates. Several states have chosen to remove straight party voting in recent years including - Texas, Utah and Iowa.

But the option remains popular in Oklahoma - nearly 42% of voters used it during the Nov. 8th election.

Lawmakers will be able to consider the bill when session begins in February.

Bill filed to strengthen Oklahoma's seat belt laws

An Oklahoma lawmaker has filed a bill that aims to strengthen the state’s seat belt laws.

Democratic State Sen. Carri Hicks has filed two bills to change the seat belt requirements. One would include all passengers to wear seat belts regardless of age. The other would require children 8 years or older to buckle up.

Under current state law, drivers and front-seat passengers are required to buckle up and it’s optional for those in the back seat.

Sen. Hick’s has filed similar legislation in the past that has previously failed.

Native-led films to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival

The Sundance film festival has been a hub for Native filmmakers to screen work, get funding and network. This year, two films made in Oklahoma about Native communities are creating excitement.

One of them is Erica Tremblay's film Fancy Dance, which will premiere Friday, January 20th. The film follows a queer Native American woman whose sister has gone missing, and she's left as the unlikely caretaker to her 13-year-old niece.

Tremblay, who is Seneca-Cayuga says the Indian Child Welfare Act was top of mind when she wrote the script with Miciana Alise.

“We really wanted to challenge the question, like in situations like this, how should we be keeping Native families together and who really should be responsible for raising Native children?” said Tremblay.

Tremblay took advantage of an incentive offered by the Cherokee Nation Film Office for the project.

Another Oklahoma story at Sundance takes place within the Muscogee Nation reservation boundaries and tackles the issue of independent and free press for tribal news outlets. Muscogee Nation filmmaker Rebecca Landsberry-Baker and her collaborator Joe Peeler will premiere the film Bad Press about Muscogee Media's battle for independence after their 2015 free press act was repealed and later reinstated.

Both films were supported by Sundance Institute and are part of a long tradition the organization has of incubating and supporting Indigenous filmmakers.

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