Eastern Oklahoma is Native American Land, Court Says

Case involves issues of state or federal prosecutions.

In a 5-4 opinion authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the Supreme Court ruled that a large swath of the state of Oklahoma is Native American land for certain purposes.

The Court endorsed the claim of a Muscogee (Creek) Nation to the land, which encompasses three million acres including most of the city of Tulsa, siding with a Native American man who had challenged his rape conviction by state authorities in the territory.

The decision means that only federal authorities—not state prosecutors—can lodge charges against Native Americans who commit actions alleged to be serious crimes on that land. Of the 1.8 million people there, fewer than 15 percent are Native Americans.

“For MCA [Major Crimes Act] purposes, land reserved for the Creek Nation since the 19th century remains Indian country,” Justice Gorsuch wrote in the opinion.

Chief Justice John Roberts was among the dissenters. He warned that “across this vast area” now determined to be Native American land, “the State’s ability to prosecute serious crimes will be hobbled and decades of past convictions could well be thrown out.”

“On top of that, the Court has profoundly destabilized the governance of eastern Oklahoma,” the chief justice wrote. “None of this is warranted,” he added.

As the Lord Leads, Pray with Us…

  • For the courts of the state of Oklahoma that may be flooded with cases to void convictions of Native Americans there.
  • About whether the tribe, the federal government, and the state, should come together and review the treaties that created the Native American reservation.

Sources: CNBC, Wall Street Journal


Back to top