In The Know: First Indigenous woman nominated to serve as Oklahoma federal judge | Lawmakers consider DEI bans for higher ed | The horrifying story behind ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma lawmakers review possible bans on college diversity, inclusion programs: Legislation to prohibit diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at Oklahoma colleges could return to the state Capitol next year, despite these initiatives being mandatory for public universities. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Oklahoma senators hear interim study criticizing DEI programs in higher education [The OU Daily]
  • Oklahoma Senate debates potential impact of defunding DEI curriculum in higher education institutions [KOKH]

Do tribal citizens owe state taxes after McGirt? Oklahoma Supreme Court will hear case: The Oklahoma Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral arguments in a milestone tax dispute tied to McGirt v. Oklahoma. The central question in the case is whether a Muscogee Nation citizen who works for her tribe and lives within its reservation must pay state income taxes. [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Concerns raised about new OK property law: Cracking down on criminal organizations who are buying up Oklahoma land for pot farms was the intent of a new law set to go into effect in November. However, there are worries the language was too broad. [KFOR]

‘I’ve been threatened’: Oklahomans meet at State Capitol to discuss problems with DHS: State legislators and a crowd of Oklahoma families and advocates addressed what they believe are widespread problems with Oklahoma’s Departments of Human Services Wednesday. [KFOR]

  • Lawmakers hear from Oklahomans who want change at Department of Human Services [KOCO]

Gov. Stitt issued a travel ban to California in 2019. Then he traveled to California: Three years ago, in January, Gov. Kevin Stitt issued an executive order banning almost all state-funded travel to California. On March 29, the governor reaffirmed this order with yet another executive order that said the travel ban shall remain in full force and effect. Then in September, Stitt went to California. [The Oklahoman]

Federal Government News

OG&E secures $50 million federal grant to bolster Oklahoma’s electric grid resilience: The U.S. Department of Energy has selected OG&E to receive $50 million to strengthen the electric grid for Oklahoma communities. [KOKH]

  • US announces $3.5B for projects nationwide to strengthen electric grid, bolster resilience [AP via KFOR]

Tribal Nations News

Biden nominates first Indigenous woman to serve as Oklahoma federal judge: President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced the historic nomination of a Cherokee Nation attorney to serve as a federal judge in Oklahoma. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Sara Hill would become the first Native American woman to be appointed as a federal district judge in Oklahoma, according to the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Cherokee Nation attorney makes history as first Native judicial nominee in Oklahoma []
  • Former Cherokee Nation AG nominated for federal judgeship in Oklahoma [KOSU]

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ puts Oklahoma’s dark history of Osage murders on display: Although many Oklahomans were long ignorant about how white settlers systematically murdered members of the Osage Nation for their oil wealth in the 1920s, “Killers of the Flower Moon” will mark a milestone in how the state addresses its complex and painful history. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ is starting conversations about history, mental health and more in Indian Country [KOSU]
  • Who were Ernest and Mollie Burkhart? The true story behind ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ [The Oklahoman]
  • Reign of Terror: The FBI investigation [News 9]
  • Oklahoma locations take the spotlight in ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ [Tulsa World]
  • The horrifying, nearly forgotten history behind Killers of the Flower Moon [Vox]
  • Epic ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ a story of greed, richly told [AP via Journal Record]

Seeking old seat on Muscogee Nation Council, ‘outspoken’ Dode Barnett challenges Joseph Hicks: Incumbent Joseph Hicks and challenger Dode Barnett are racing toward a Nov. 4 general election for the Creek District’s Seat A on the Muscogee Nation Tribal Council. [NonDoc]

Health News

Experts examine elderly care in Oklahoma, ranked 46th in long-term services, support: The committee heard presentations covering staffing shortages, care complaints and service connection issues to identify ways Oklahoma can improve the quality of life for its aging population. [KGOU]

Mental health panel recommendations include cap on medical marijuana potency: Recommendations including broader access to treatment and a cap on medical marijuana potency were offered by law enforcement and mental health professionals during a breakfast meeting with legislators at LaFortune Park’s clubhouse Wednesday. [Tulsa World]

Superintendent: Younger kids not immune to allure of e-cigarettes: One in four Oklahoma high schoolers have vaped in the past 30 days. That’s according to a vaping awareness campaign created by the state’s Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust. But it’s not just older kids using nicotine. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Criminal Justice News

Rep. Justin Humphrey seeks to reform Oklahoma’s criminal justice system in upcoming interim study: Rep. Justin Humphrey has scheduled an interim study to detail his ideas on restructuring the state’s entire criminal justice system. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 23 at the State Capitol. [KOKH]

Oklahoman sentenced in federal health care fraud case: A former pharmacy operator in Oklahoma has been sentenced to prison and ordered to pay millions of dollars in restitution after admitting to his role in a kickback scheme to defraud the federal government. [Journal Record]

Ex-Chickasaw Nation employee who funneled tribe’s money to his own crypto account sentenced: A federal judge sentenced Christopher Covington, of Ada, to two years in prison and ordered him to pay $477,500 in restitution. Covington had pleaded guilty in March 2022 to stealing money distributed by a federal program. [The Oklahoman]

Former Oklahoma County judge resigns Bar membership following sex scandal: A former Oklahoma County District Judge who resigned in 2021 after being accused of inappropriate sexual relations with several attorneys is now resigning his membership in the Oklahoma Bar Association. [KFOR]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

Opinion: Oklahoma foster care report gives plan for improving lives of abused, neglected children: Earlier this year, on the first day of his second term of office, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed an executive order forming the Child Welfare Task Force. The Child Welfare Task Force identified five primary goals for the state, each with actionable recommendations. [Joe Dorman Guest Column / Tulsa World]

Education News

Education Watch: Attorney General Files Additional Charges on Epic Charter School Founders: Attorney General Gentner Drummond, who took over prosecution of the case in January, added four new charges, including an additional count of embezzlement and money laundering. [Oklahoma Watch]

Study Assesses Capital Needs of Regional Colleges, Universities: Oklahoma House of Representatives Speaker Pro Tempore Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow, and Minority Leader Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma City, held an interim study Tuesday assessing the capital needs of the Regional University System of Oklahoma (RUSO) as well as for rural colleges and universities. [Ponca City Now]

New grant to Okla. university hopes to help fill teacher shortage: Northeastern State University has received a $2.45 million grant from the American Rescue Plan Act to help train new teachers. [Public Radio Tulsa]

What Oklahomans need to know about student loan repayment: This month, millions of Americans will have to make student loan payments after a three-year pandemic-era pause. But since 2020, there have been some big changes made to the repayment system. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

General News

Officials hope weekend will revitalize Oklahoma’s all-Black towns: Oklahoma is known for its football, oil and wind sweepin’ down the plain, but probably not so much as the home to more historic “all-Black towns” than any other state in the nation. Organizers of an upcoming Black Towns Revival Weekend hope to change that. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma crowd shows solidarity at ‘A Night to Stand with Israel”: About 375 people attended “A Night to Stand With Israel” hosted by the Oklahoma Israel Exchange and several Jewish organizations on Tuesday at the First Americans Museum, 659 American Indian Blvd. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Largest commercial development in 30 years coming to OKC’s Adventure District [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“We have to make peace with this past of ours and, in some way, move forward with the knowledge that something’s happened that should never be repeated.”

– Former Osage Nation Principal Chief Jim Gray on “Killers of the Flower Moon” and the tragic true story of the “Reign of Terror” Osage murders in Oklahoma. [Oklahoma Voice]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s incarceration rate per 100,000 residents in 2021, which was the nation’s fourth highest rate. [Prison Policy Initiative]

Policy Note

Collateral Consequences: Unemployment, homelessness, and educational opportunities among formerly incarcerated people: The negative consequences of incarceration continue long after a person leaves the prison walls. In a first-of-its-kind series of reports, we look at how formerly incarcerated people struggle to access basic needs — jobs, housing, and educational opportunities — when they are released. [Prison Policy Initiative]

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Annie Taylor joined OK Policy as a Digital Communications Associate/Storybanker in April 2022. She studied journalism and mass communication at the University of Oklahoma, and was a member of the Native American Journalists Association. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications from the University of Central Oklahoma. While pursuing her degree, she worked in restaurant and retail management, as well as freelance copywriting and digital content production. Annie is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation, and holds a deep reverence for storytelling in the digital age. She was born and raised in southeast Oklahoma, and now lives in Oklahoma City with her dog, Melvin.

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