State AG Lacks Legal Standing in Poultry Lawsuit

The federal lawsuit by the Oklahoma Attorney General against the poultry industry should be dismissed because the state does not own the water resources that are the focus of the case, according to a motion filed by the Poultry Community Council.
“The state’s complaint overlooks the well-established fact that the federal government transferred all of the water and other natural resources within the Oklahoma portion of the Illinois River Watershed to the Cherokee Nation before Oklahoma became a state, and those natural resources remain the exclusive property of the Cherokee Nation today,” said the motion filed in U.S. District Court in Tulsa. “Indeed, the federal courts have previously rejected Oklahoma’s claims that it owns or holds in trust the waters, streambeds and associated sediments previously granted to Indian Tribes.”
The Attorney General is using natural resources that legally belong to the Cherokee Nation as a pawn in his politically-motivated lawsuit,” said Jackie Cunningham, director of community relations for the Poultry Community Council. “We believe this is wrong, especially since he’s trying to use these resources to win a damage award to help pay private lawyers working for him under an unlawful contingency fee agreement.”
Tahlequah, the Cherokee Nation capital, is north of Lake Tenkiller and the entire Illinois River Watershed lies within the area where the water and natural resources were set aside by the federal government for the Cherokee Nation.
The defendants in the case include Tyson Foods Inc., Tyson Poultry Inc., Tyson Chicken Inc., Cobb-Vantress Inc., George’s Inc. and George’s Farms Inc., Peterson Farms Inc., Willow Brook Foods Inc., Simmons Foods Inc., Cal-Maine Farms Inc., Cal-Maine Foods Inc., Cargill Inc. and Cargill Turkey Production LLC.

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