Supreme Court Rules Most Of Oklahoma Is Tribal Land

Thursday, July 9th 2020, 5:15 pm
By: Tevis Hillis

Today the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 favor of a Native American man asking to be tried federally after being prosecuted by the state. As this ruling reveals, Oklahoma is mostly Indian Reservation land. 

Related Story: SCOTUS Rules Against Oklahoma In McGirt Case

As this has the possibility of reshaping the criminal justice system in Oklahoma, it also could put convictions dating back to our statehood into question.

"It has taken 187 years for the supreme court to finally make the government keep its word," said Irven Box, legal analyst.

Jimcy McGirt was convicted of child rape in state court in 1997. He received a life sentence.

McGirt challenged the sentence saying the state didn't have authority to convict him because the crimes happened on tribal land.

The Supreme Court rules that much of Eastern Oklahoma is in fact, Indian reservation. Box said this will change the way state authorities prosecute Native Americans.

Box said, "for example, if murder were committed today in the Creek nation ordinally, the OSBI or the local police would be called, but now on this decision, I would think the FBI would have to be called."

This brings up the possibility of Native Americans now being able to be tried again federally.

"Anyone that has been convicted in state court on a major crime or major crimes act can come in and what they call a post-conviction and say look I should have been tried in federal court," said Box.

In a statement made by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation says it will continue working with federal and state law enforcement to ensure public safety.