Cherokee Nation Restructuring Criminal Code After Supreme Court Ruling


Thursday, December 17th 2020, 6:20 pm
By: Amelia Mugavero


TAHLEQUAH, Okla. -

Cherokee Nation leaders are restructuring their criminal codes to make it consistent with state law. This is in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on tribal jurisdiction in McGirt v. Oklahoma.

Cherokee leaders said upgrading their criminal codes will help put everyone on the same page. 

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. believes the Supreme Court's reservation will apply to the Cherokees, so they decided to be proactive and revise their criminal codes now.  

"We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t get prepared for the inevitable,” Chief Hoskin said. “But I feel like this injection of resources and modernizing aspects of our criminal codes is in the best interest of the Cherokee Nation and really everybody in the reservation.”

Hoskin expects the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to rule any day that additional tribes will fall under the Supreme Court's ruling. 

That is why Attorney General Sara Hill said they are making their codes parallel to the states, to make it easier on both citizens and law enforcement. 

"One of the reasons we updated our code was to make it really consistent with Oklahoma line so whether Oklahomans are in the Cherokee Nation or on state land or whether they’re going back-and-forth between the two, the law that applies is the same," Hill said. 

Hill said this is also a way to make it easier for cross-deputized agencies.

"We are trying to make it easier on them so that they can do their jobs effectively and that the publics expectations are the same for both jurisdictions," Hill said. 

They are also investing $10 million to hire more law enforcement, judges and improve their technology in anticipation of a huge increase in cases headed their way. 

"$10 million, is significant on the arm but it’s really the first in the few steps will need to take this fiscal year to manage what’s before us," Hoskin added. 

Hoskin also said the nation will work on setting aside more than $30 million a year for their criminal justice division.

For more information on the changes in criminal codes, click here.