Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt told Newsmax on Monday that state law enforcement will continue to pull over and cite Native Americans with license plate tags made on reservations instead of those made by the state.
"We're going to enforce the laws of the state of Oklahoma," Stitt said on "Wake Up America." "We want to protect our law enforcement. So, basically, the tags are illegal."
Stitt said police are stopping and ticketing tribal nation members in the state when they are using the state's roads with license plate tags made on reservations without transmitting the relevant vehicle information to Oklahoma Department of Motor Vehicles.
"There was a court case that said that you cannot have tags in a state that is outside of the reservation. So, what was happening to some of the tribes, they are just printing tags," Stitt said. "They're not putting that information into our database. It's a safety issue when our law enforcement pull those folks over."
He also said the money generated from the state issued tags, including the vehicle taxes and fees, pay for the maintenance and construction of the highways, funding that is absent with the reservation-made plates.
Stitt said Native Americans are allowed to drive with their own tags within the reservations, but not on state roads, unless there is a special compact with the state.
"This is addressing a significant public safety issue that puts law enforcement and others at risk," Stitt told Tulsa News 6 Nov. 10. "If tribal governments won't share vehicle registration information with DPS, we can't keep our officers and our streets safe. Members of tribes with valid compacts that provide needed car registration information will not be ticketed."
The Oklahoman reported in 2021 that the most recent census estimates that those who identify as Native Americans make up about 13% of Oklahoma's population.
According to the report, that population, made up from the state's 39 different tribes, generated an economic impact of nearly $13 billion in 2017, and accounts for 52,000 direct employment jobs and supports more than 96,000 jobs, including the purchases of goods and services.
Stitt, who has endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for president in 2024, said Monday that he will continue to support DeSantis because he believes he has the best chance of beating Democrat President Joe Biden.
"We've got to beat Joe Biden in November," Stitt said. "There's no doubt about that. So, let's put our best person forward and let's go knock out Joe Biden in November."
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Charles Kim, a Newsmax general assignment writer, is an award-winning journalist with more than 30 years in reporting on news and politics.
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