OKLAHOMA (KFOR) – A Muscogee Creek Nation member said she does not know where to turn for legal advice after her car was burglarized in Tulsa.
“Had I not been Native American, I could’ve had everything back,” Sophia Woodson told KFOR.
Woodson said while she was visiting family in Tulsa last month, thieves broke into her car. The suspects allegedly stole $1,129 worth of items, including her school bag, laptop, books, medication and personal items.
After Woodson filed a report with the Tulsa Police Department, detectives uncovered valuable information.
“‘We have a suspect. I need to know if you’re a Native American, because if you are, it determines how we file your case based off the new McGirt ruling,'” said Woodson, recalling her conversation with the detective.
Woodson told the detective she was indeed a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation.
“I thought since I’m Native American and then enrolled Native American, this will be bad for them,” Woodson told KFOR. “It turned out the complete opposite.”
“He said, ‘We saw on video tape that your belongings were stolen out of the vehicle and we have video footage of the suspects,'” she said. “‘However, because you’re a Native American, we cannot charge them or get an arrest warrant for your belongings.'”
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the McGirt case designated a large portion of Oklahoma “Indian Territory.” That means, it’s subject to tribal and federal laws.
“[The detective advised], ‘If you’re ever a victim of a crime, in some cases, you can have a non-native report do the report for you,'” said Woodson. “That was when everything like stopped for me. I was at a loss for words.”
Tulsa police told KFOR it sent the detective’s findings off to the FBI on Wednesday.
“I will have to go through the tribe and I will have to see if the tribe will want to take it,” Woodson told KFOR.
The Family Violence Prevention Program – The Muscogee Nation said the tribe has developed resources for people just like Woodson.
“We want to encourage them to reach out to the tribe, to our program specifically,” said Shawn Partridge, the Program Director. “Let us help track down that information. We can help direct them to the individuals they need to visit with.”
The director said the program is meant to be a link between victims and tribal or federal court.
“We’re able to provide that advocacy and support for victims of crimes that are coming through the court system,” said Partridge.
Meanwhile, Woodson is left wondering if it is all worth it.
“If I was to have a child, Do I want to enroll them as a Native American? I don’t know,” Woodson told KFOR.
KFOR reached out to the State Attorney General’s office, but it declined to comment.
For information on the Muscogee Nation’s Family Violence Prevention Program, go to www.muscogeenation.com/services/family-violence-prevention-program/.
Here is a document for important points of contact for crime victims on the Muscogee Nation Reservation: