Wednesday, August 10, 2022

SCOTUS Limits 2020 ruling on tribal lands in Oklahoma

WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that Oklahoma can prosecute non-Native Americans for crimes committed on tribal land when the victim is Native American.

The 5-4 ruling diminished the Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling that said much of eastern Oklahoma remains a U.S. Indian reservation. The first decision did not allow the state to prosecute Native Americans accused of crimes on tribal lands that cover most of Tulsa, the state’s second largest city with a population of about 413,000.

It would have left the federal government with exclusive authority to prosecute such cases, and federal officials have acknowledged that they do not have the resources to prosecute all the crimes they have committed.

But the Supreme Court’s new ruling said the state can also intervene when the victims are tribal members.

The case highlighted the already strained relationship between indigenous tribes in Oklahoma and Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt.

Castro-Huerta has since pleaded guilty to a federal charge of child neglect in exchange for a seven-year prison sentence, although he has not yet been formally sentenced.

The Supreme Court case involved the Muscogee Reservation, but later rulings upheld the historical reservations of other Native American tribes in Oklahoma, including the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Quapaw, and Seminole nations.

The Cherokee Nation is the country’s largest Native American tribe by population with about 400,000 citizens, of whom about 261,000 live in Oklahoma.

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