Muscogee (Creek) Nation says it’s ‘not in agreement’ with Oklahoma on Supreme Court ruling

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Following a recent decision by the United States Supreme Court regarding tribal land in Oklahoma, there seems to be a back-and-forth battle between tribal and state leaders.

On July 9, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the Muscogee (Creek) reservation was never disestablished. It’s a ruling that has a big impact on the state’s criminal justice system.

“For anybody that has an Indian card, a CDIB card, a certified degree of Indian blood,” Native American law attorney Robert Gifford told KFOR. “If they are within the Creek Nation, the state of Oklahoma had no jurisdiction over them.”

As it stands, these decisions alter the State’s legal jurisdiction and law enforcement capabilities on potentially a significant portion of eastern Oklahoma, creating uncertainty for many Oklahomans.

A week after the Supreme Court decision announced that much of eastern Oklahoma, including Tulsa, was still considered part of a Native American reservation, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter announced that the state and tribes had reached a deal.

The next day, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and Seminole Nation said that wasn’t the case.

“First and foremost, on behalf of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, I congratulate the Muscogee (Creek) Nation on the Supreme Court ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma, which affirms the original reservation boundaries of all Five Tribes. However, the Seminole Nation has not formally approved the agreement-in-principle announced by the other four tribes. To be clear, the Seminole Nation has not been involved with discussions regarding proposed legislation between the other four tribes and the State of Oklahoma. Furthermore, the Seminole Nation has not engaged in any such discussions with the State of Oklahoma, including with the Attorney General, to develop a framework for clarifying respective jurisdictions and to ensure collaboration among tribal, state and federal authorities regarding the administration of justice across Seminole Nation lands.

Before the Seminole Nation will consider any such framework, the Nation requires respectful and meaningful government-to-government discussions directly with the state. Until such government-to-government discussions occur, and the Nation has an opportunity to fully conduct its own due diligence to any such proposed legislation, the Seminole Nation does not consent to being obligated to an agreement between the other four tribes and the state. As always, the Seminole Nation is proud to be one of the Five Tribes and is eager to have a constructive discussion during this monumental time in our history.”  

SEMINOLE NATION CHIEF GREG P. CHILCOAT

“I want to inform you that Muscogee (Creek) Nation is not in agreement with the proposed Agreement-in-Principle document released yesterday by the State of Oklahoma. As the Chief, I very much believe that collaboration between federal, state, and tribal governments is critical and necessary following the Supreme Court’s decision in McGirt. That collaboration, however, does not require congressional legislation.

The Nation will continue to pursue all appropriate intergovernmental agreements to ensure public safety within its borders, as intergovernmental agreements are the hallmark of respect among sovereigns. In fact, many such agreements already exist and we will continue to build upon them, but the Muscogee (Creek) Nation will oppose any proposed legislation that diminishes the Nation’s sovereignty.”

MUSCOGEE (CREEK) NATION PRINCIPAL CHIEF DAVID HILL.

“Knowing how tribes work, it didn’t seem like it was very plausible. The very next day with the Creek Nation making its announcement, it made more sense,” Native American Law Attorney Robert Gifford told KFOR.  “The process for a tribe to give up its sovereignty is not that easy.”

Gifford says the agreement meant the state was taking over some of the authority from the tribe in the reservation area. Something he compares to one state taking power from another. 

“The State of Oklahoma giving up its right to govern itself to say, Texas, which would be shocking,” Gifford said. “The tribe itself has a right to govern itself. It’s a political entity.”

After the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s response, Attorney General Hunter sent out another statement calling its stance “regrettable.”

“Since the Murphy case went before the U.S. Supreme Court over two years ago, we have been meeting regularly with the Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations to discuss potential legislation, so Chief Hill’s statements today come as a stunning and regrettable reversal of commitments and assurances to me. This is neither in the best interest of the state of Oklahoma nor its tribal citizens. Legislation is necessary to clarify the criminal and civil uncertainty created by the McGirt decision. I am deeply disappointed in Chief Hill for withdrawing from this process. It is my hope that both the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the Seminole Nation will recommit to our agreement on legislation that preserves public safety and promotes continued economic growth.” 

Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and James Lankford (R-OK) and Representatives Frank Lucas (OK-03), Tom Cole (OK-04), Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), Kevin Hern (OK-O1) and Kendra Horn (OK-05) today released the following joint congressional delegation statement regarding the ongoing negotiation between Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter and Tribal Nations on a proposal to Congress following the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in McGirt v. Oklahoma:

“Following the McGirt decision, we appreciate the essential input and recommendations of Tribal Nations and the Oklahoma Attorney General on how all Oklahomans can cooperate together in the days ahead. Many legal questions remain that will require clarifying legislation. We look forward to working with the Tribal Nations, the state, and all stakeholders, to develop a legislative framework that honors tribal sovereignty and gives consistency and predictability to all those living and working in Oklahoma. While there are valid questions and concerns that have caused confusion for individuals, business, and law enforcement, we expect federal legislation to provide greater clarity for everyone. We all want and expect our state to be safe and prosperous. Working together as neighbors, we will accomplish this enormous task together.”

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