SCOTUS rules Creek Nation retains 1800s-era jurisdiction in big chunk of Oklahoma land

SCOTUS rules Creek Nation retains 1800s-era jurisdiction in big chunk of Oklahoma land
Map of Mucogee Creek jurisdictional area. Courtesy Muscogee Creek Nation

[Ed. – As the NPR article says, this isn’t about the land reverting to non-state “ownership” or administration.  But it is about a change in the relationship of the state of Oklahoma to the affected area (see map in feature image).  One of the biggest changes would be removing state jurisdiction for major crimes committed by enrolled tribal-nation members.  Those crimes would have to be tried in federal court.  There are four other tribal areas in Oklahoma, encompassing most of the state, to which the changes would be held to apply, in the absence of newly negotiated arrangements.  It’s not the land-ownership catastrophe some are depicting it to be, but it’s still likely to be disruptive over time.  Oklahoma developed like Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska; this decision has the real potential to start pulling a very different kind of state in the direction of New Mexico.]

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that about half of the land in Oklahoma is within an Indian reservation, a decision that will have major consequences for both past and future criminal and civil cases.

The court’s decision hinged on the question of whether the Creek reservation continued to exist after Oklahoma became a state. …

The decision was 5-4, with Justices Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer in the majority, while Justices John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented.

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The ruling will have significant legal implications for eastern Oklahoma. Much of Tulsa, the state’s second-largest city, is located on Muscogee (Creek) land. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation cheered the court’s decision.

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