The Indian Law Bombshell: McGirt v. Oklahoma
101 Boston University Law Review __ (2021).
46 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2020 Last revised: 29 Apr 2021
Date Written: August 10, 2020
On July 9, 2020, the United States Supreme Court held by a 5-4 vote that the borders of the 1866 Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation in Oklahoma remain intact. The decision landed like a bombshell. Overnight, the Creek Reservation was reaffirmed and recognized as covering three and a quarter million acres. The entire area is once again recognized as “Indian Country” as defined by federal law. One million Oklahomans discovered that they now live on an Indian reservation, including 400,000 people in the city of Tulsa. The United States, Oklahoma, and Oklahomans will now have to deal with numerous and complex issues involving Creek Nation jurisdiction over an enormously larger expanse of land and population than was previously assumed. This case has very significant and crucially important implications that will involve the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, other tribes in Oklahoma, and tribes across the country in future negotiations, lawsuits, and perhaps legislative efforts to address the issues that will arise. McGirt is probably the most significant Indian law case in well over one hundred years, and it will have serious repercussions for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Oklahoma, the United States, and other Indian nations located in that state and nationwide. In this Article, we examine McGirt in depth and we will then focus our attention on its future ramifications for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, federal Indian law, the United States, Indian nations in Oklahoma, the state of Oklahoma, and Indian nations and peoples across the country.
Keywords: Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation, reservation diminishment, reservation disestablishment, tribal criminal jurisdiction, tribal civil jurisdiction, Indian country, Oklahoma, Indian reservations, Indian nations
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