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Politics Supreme Court to revisit part of Native American land decision in Oklahoma

03:14  22 january  2022
03:14  22 january  2022 Source:   thehill.com

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The US Supreme Court has ruled about half of Oklahoma belongs to Native Americans , in a landmark case that also quashed a child rape conviction. The justices decided 5-4 that an eastern chunk of the state, including its second-biggest city, Tulsa, should be recognised as part of a Thursday's decision in McGirt v Oklahoma is seen as one of the most far-reaching cases for Native Americans before the highest US court in decades. The ruling means some tribe members found guilty in state courts for offences committed on the land at issue can now challenge their convictions.

The Supreme Court agreed Friday to consider limiting a recent decision about Indian land in Oklahoma that the state says has produced chaos in its courts . The justices said they would take up a case to clarify whether the state can prosecute non-Indians for crimes committed against Native As a result of that ruling, Oklahoma lost the authority to prosecute American Indians for crimes committed in parts of Oklahoma that include most of Tulsa, the state's second-largest city. State courts have since extended the decision to apply to crimes committed by or against Native Americans on tribal

The Supreme Court said on Friday that it would revisit part of a decision it made in 2020 on a case, which focused on Oklahoma's ability to prosecute on Native American-recognized land.

Supreme Court to revisit part of Native American land decision in Oklahoma © Associated Press/Jacquelyn Martin Supreme Court to revisit part of Native American land decision in Oklahoma

The original decision, McGirt v. Oklahoma, sided with tribal leaders finding that a large part of land in the eastern part of the state qualified as Indian reservation, according to The Washington Post.

In the 5-4 decision, Justice Neil Gorsuch sided with the more liberal justices for the majority.

The justices will revisit a more narrow part of their decision, about whether non-Native Americans who commit crimes against the native community in areas of Oklahoma that are considered Native American land can be prosecuted by the state, The Associated Press reported.

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The United States Supreme Court has ruled that much of Eastern Oklahoma is tribal lands in a landmark decision that overturned a tribe member’s rape conviction because, they determined, it technically occurred outside the reach of state criminal law. The justices ruled five to four in favour of He does not dispute his guilt, but had argued the court did not have jurisdiction to convict him, as the crime occurred on Muscogee (Creek) tribal lands . McGirt is a member of the Seminole tribe. Federal law states when a crime is committed on a Native American reservation they must be tried in federal

Much of Native American land in Oklahoma was originally lost through a process called an allotment — a federal act based on the misguided notion that Native American people would be better off if their lands were privatized and held by individuals rather than communally. The Supreme Court decision does not mean that land currently held by non-tribal, non- Native owners in the boundaries of the Muscogee Creek Reservation will be taken away from them and transferred to the tribes. But it does raise the question of how laws and regulations, such as environmental statutes, will now be applied

The AP noted that since Native American-recognized land was expanded during that 2020 case to include most of Tulsa, it meant that criminal prosecution against Native Americans in those areas also could not be conducted by the state.

The state had urged the Supreme Court to have the 2020 McGirt v. Oklahoma decision overturned, but that request was denied by the justices, the Post noted.

Instead, part of that decision, issued one year ago, will be revisited by the high court in April.

Oklahoma officials, including Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) applauded the Supreme Court's decision on Friday.

"The fallout of the McGirt decision has been destructive. Criminals have used this decision to commit crimes without punishment. Victims of crime, especially Native victims, have suffered by being forced to relive their worst nightmare in a second trial or having justice elude them completely," Stitt said in a statement.

The Republican governor said the 2020 decision "has hamstrung law enforcement in half of the state."

"Now that Governor Stitt's fight against tribal sovereignty has once again come up short, we hope he will consider joining tribes, rather than undermining our efforts, so we can focus on what is best for our tribal nations and all Oklahomans," Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said, according to the Post.

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usr: 1
This is interesting!