ADA, Okla. – Pauline Brown had been looking forward to Feb. 2 with great anticipation. While some look forward to the date to see whether a groundhog predicts the end of winter, this Chickasaw Nation Hall of Fame honoree, cultural preservationist and fluent speaker knew it was the first day she could tag her car with a Chickasaw Nation license plate.
For decades, the 84-year-old Chickasaw has wished she could display a tag showing she is a citizen of the tribe that has always been such an important part of her life.
Monday that wish came true for Brown and for thousands of Chickasaws living in Oklahoma.
“I don’t know if I was the first Chickasaw in Pontotoc County to get the tag, but I was one of the first,” Brown said with a broad smile.
“I’m really proud. It shows how far we have advanced (as a tribe). Now, wherever we travel, it tells others what tribe we are. We are very proud of our tribe,” Brown said. “I put it on my car and stood there and admired it for a long time. I couldn’t believe it.”
Chickasaw leadership inked compacts with the state for tribal tags late last year.
To thunderous applause, Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby announced at his October State of the Nation address Chickasaw tags would be available in 2015.
"We are very pleased to work with the state to offer Chickasaw Nation license plates," said Gov. Anoatubby at the time. "These tags offer Chickasaw citizens a very visible way to demonstrate their pride in being Chickasaw, while keeping funding for schools, roads, state employee retirement, wildlife conservation and other state programs intact."
Chickasaw tags are sold exclusively at state-licensed tag agencies across Oklahoma. Chickasaws purchasing tags must present their Chickasaw Nation citizenship card and pay the same fees and taxes any Oklahoman would pay.
After the transaction, the Oklahoma Tax Commission will notify the Chickasaw Nation and send a rebate for a percentage of the fees and taxes.
The Chickasaw Nation issues a rebate to its citizens for a portion of the fees and taxes.
Brown was fortunate. Her tag was due for renewal. However that may not be case for all Chickasaws. For those who wish to purchase the tag between renewal dates, additional fees for a replacement tag may be charged. Standard fees and taxes will apply on tags purchased during regular renewal cycles.