Supreme Court Rules Most Of Oklahoma Is Tribal Land

Thursday, July 9th 2020, 6:55 pm
By: Tevis Hillis

In a 5-4 ruling Thursday the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Native American man asking to be tried federally after being prosecuted by the state. The decision said Oklahoma is mostly American Indian reservation land. 

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

"It has taken 187 years for the Supreme Court to finally make the government keep its word," said Irven Box, News 9’s legal analyst.

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

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

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

"For example, if murder were committed today in the Creek Nation ordinarilly, the OSBI or the local police would be called butut now on this decision, I would think the FBI would have to be called," Box said.

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," Box said.

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation said it will continue working with federal and state law enforcement to ensure public safety.