TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (KFOR) – The Cherokee Nation agreed to donate revenue from traffic and misdemeanor citations to the town of Vian in light of the McGirt ruling.
Cherokee Nation officials signed an agreement with Vian officials on Wednesday, committing citation revenue to Vian, according to a Cherokee Nation news release.
Vian will receive money in donation form from fees and fines generated from Cherokee Nation traffic and misdemeanor offenses in recognition and exchange for the policing and administrative functions provided by Vian.
The Council of the Cherokee Nation, in May, gave Tribe leaders authority to enter such agreements, which are designed to protect city municipalities from losing funding sources after the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt ruling and the subsequent Hogner ruling, which determined the Cherokee Nation reservation is intact and that the state of Oklahoma does not have jurisdiction over tribal land.
Local fines and fees against tribal citizens have been sent to the Cherokee Nation since the ruling.
“The Cherokee Nation has always been committed to working with our partners at the local level to ensure that everyone on our reservation is supported with the resources they need,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “Local law enforcement agencies are critical to our public safety system, and it is important that they do not lose out on funding following McGirt, and that municipalities can continue to fund local services. We are grateful for our productive and cooperative relationships with our municipal partners and look forward to continuing to work together to jointly protect tribal citizens and everyone living on our reservation.”
Cherokee Nation officials anticipate signing more such agreements in the coming months, ensuring that Cherokee Reservation municipalities receive the same amount of their fees and fines as municipalities under state of Oklahoma jurisdiction.
“We just appreciate everything the Cherokee Nation does not just on the law enforcement side but for the people and the communities. We are happy to get on board with this and just want to do what we can to help make a smooth transition for the tribe because as long as the tribes are doing good in Oklahoma, Oklahoma is doing good,” said Dennis Fletcher, Mayor of Vian. “Vian and Cherokee Nation have had a great working relationship for the past 10 years and we just want to do our part to continue building that relationship.”
The Cherokee Nation filed more than 1,000 cases in tribal court since the McGirt decision.
The Supreme Court made the McGirt decision on July 9, 2020.
Jimcy McGirt, the defendant at the center of the Supreme Court case, was convicted in 1997 for raping and sexually abusing a four year old. He was sentenced to two 500-year sentences.
The 1997 conviction ultimately led to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Oklahoma prosecutors lack authority to pursue criminal cases against American Indian defendants in parts of Eastern Oklahoma that include most of Tulsa, the state’s second-largest city.
The high court decided that the Muscogee (Creek) reservation was never disestablished. The ruling’s impact on Oklahoma’s criminal justice system has been enormous.
“For anybody that has an Indian card, a CDIB card, a certified degree of Indian blood,” Native American law attorney Robert Gifford previously said to KFOR. “If they are within the Creek Nation, the state of Oklahoma had no jurisdiction over them.”
The ruling led to several convictions being undone, including murder convictions.