Here’s a summary of Native American-related news in the US this week:
Supreme Court extends Oklahoma’s criminal jurisdiction over tribes
The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that Oklahoma has simultaneous jurisdiction with the federal government to prosecute non-Indians who commit crimes against Indians on tribal land.
The 5-4 ruling overturned the court’s 2020 ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma Limited, which said a large portion of eastern Oklahoma, about 43% of the state, remains indigenous land, and as such, only federal and tribal courts can prosecute crimes there.
“The state’s interest in protecting crime victims includes both Indian and non-Indian victims,” Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote in court.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt celebrated the verdict: “Today our efforts were worthwhile, and the court has confirmed that Indian land is part of a state, not separate from it,” he said in a statement.
Tribes in Oklahoma were quick to condemn the ruling as an attack on tribal sovereignty.
Chuck Hoskin Jr., head of the Cherokee nation, said the court had failed in its duty to keep the nation’s promises, disregarding congressional statutes, and disregarding tribal sovereignty.
Homelands Return to Onondaga Nation in New York State
In one of the largest transfers of land back to a Native American nation by a state, New York will return to the Onondaga 414 acres of their original 404,700 acres of ancestral land in Tully Valley.
The agreement is a result of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Recovery Program (NRDAR) Settlement of March 2018 between the Natural Resource Trustees and Honeywell International and will transfer the title and full ownership of the land to the Onondaga nation.
“It is with great pleasure that the Onondaga nation welcomes the return of the first significant area of its ancestral homelands,” said Tadodaho Sidney Hill, head of Onondaga Nation. “The nation can now renew its stewardship obligations to restore these lands and waters and to preserve them for future generations to come.”
Oklahoma first stop on road to boarding school healing
This week, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced that Secretary of State Deb Haaland and Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Bryan Newland will visit Oklahoma on July 9 to launch “The Road to Healing,” a year-long cross-country tour of Native American survivors. to give. and their offspring a chance to tell their stories.
Last month, the department released the first part of an investigation report on the federal Indian residence system. To date, the investigation has identified more than 400 federally supported residential schools and more than 50 cemeteries.
They found the largest concentration of these schools was in what is today the state of Oklahoma, with 76 schools representing 19% of the total.
Alaska University is working to revive indigenous languages
The University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) announced on June 29 that it will offer free classes in three Alaska mother tongues, Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian languages, on three levels from this fall – beginner, intermediate and advanced.
The free classes are non-credit courses, but credit can be received if a student chooses to pay tuition and fees.
“The University of Alaska Southeast is committed to recognizing and acknowledging historical mistakes made by Alaska Native communities. We make sure that indigenous people do not have to pay to learn their own language. It is so important in the work after language revival and overall healing, ”said Carin Silkaitis, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.