Kiowa Tribal Court holds grand opening

Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 6:25 PM CST
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CARNEGIE, Okla. (KSWO) - The Kiowa tribe brought in the new year with the grand opening of its very own tribal court.

In 2017, the tribe adopted a new constitution which established four branches of government including their own judicial branch.

For several years the Bureau of Indian Affairs was in charge of criminal and civil cases.

“As a sovereign entity, the Kiowa tribe should have the ability to interpret their own laws. So until now, they haven’t had the ability to do so. Now with the opening of this judicial facility, the Kiowa tribe is now ready to look to the future to be able to exercise in full its sovereign status,” said Kiowa Supreme Court Justice Eldridge Onco.

This means any criminal or civil cases that happened in their jurisdiction will be handled by the tribe.

“The Kiowa people, generations from now will look back upon this day and say that this day marks the time when they became a fully functioning government,” Onco said.

Kiowa Chairman Lawrence SpottedBird made it his top priority to establish their own court when he took office.

SpottedBird said he hopes this will offer more respect and fairness toward his people.

“Personally I believe we don’t often receive this fairness and objectivity in the other courts and so it’s a big day for us to take care of the affairs of our tribal citizens,” said SpottedBird.

He also said this is just the beginning of many more positive changes to come.

“It’s a proud day for me as the chairman of our Kiowa tribe and we are taking a huge step today to be complete, and now we move forward, 2023 will be a big year, an exciting year for the Kiowa tribe,” he said.

Over a thousand cases have been transferred to the Kiowa tribe and they didn’t waste any time and held their first court hearing earlier today at 2 p.m.