Liz Gray/Managing Editor
TVLSE, Oklahoma – As the United States Supreme Court ruling reaffirming the reservation status of tribes in Oklahoma extends its application to the Quapaw Reservation, the state is actively attempting to diminish the ruling made in July of last year.
The same song of chaos has been sung by the state since oral arguments of the McGirt case, but the orchestrator of disruption has not been the ruling itself as much as it has been Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt’s reaction to it.
The state of Oklahoma’s systemic attack on tribal sovereignty by releasing post-conviction criminals into the general public to substantiate their argument of a criminal dystopia has since been resolved with the OCCA decision on State ex rel. Matloff v. Wallace that McGirt does not apply retroactively. Cases requiring reprosecution have been narrowed down to those that were on direct appeal when the July 9, 2020 decision came down and a defendant has wanted to apply McGirt to their case at the risk of being reprosecuted with more intense federal sentences.
The state is the petitioner of several cases in the Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma in an attempt to overturn the landmark decision.
Now the cities of Tulsa and Owasso have joined Stitt’s fantastical strain.
Tulsa and Owasso boldly claim in their brief that absolutely no case referred to federal or tribal courts has been tried.
Though according to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Attorney General Office, in the fifteen months immediately following McGirt, the Nation has prosecuted 2,771 felony and misdemeanor cases.
While the state tries to pin down solid evidence that concisely shows “McGirt doesn’t work,” police officers have cross deputized and adjusted, funding from the Department of Justice has become available federally and tribally, and MCN has adopted traffic code deliberately mirroring the state.
The City of Tulsa’s participation with the state came as a shock to many, including tribal leaders, city council and the city’s own Indian Affairs Commission.
Tulsa’s history is rooted in tribal nations, with the city located on Muscogee (Creek), Cherokee and Osage reservations.
IAC announced an emergency meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 26 where Native Americans and their allies marched to Tulsa City Hall to have their voices heard.
The commission opened up the meeting for public comments, where tribal leaders and members of the Native American community expressed how the shocking news had marinated over the weekend.
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. led with his comment on the questionable move by Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum.
“I have no idea why any leader in this state would throw in with Kevin Stitt when it comes to Indian affairs, because Kevin Stitt is a failure on Indian affairs,” Hoskin stated.
MCN Principal Chief David Hill released an impassioned statement on the disappointment in Bynum’s decision.
“The City of Tulsa’s insertion of itself into the Governor’s unrelenting and untethered-to-facts push to provoke the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn its McGirt ruling seems to be little more than political theater,” Hill’s statement read. “We are disappointed, but not surprised.”
At one point, a Muscogee citizen stood up and shared her story about how McGirt gave her family a second chance to seek justice when Tulsa’s District Attorney failed to do so.
Tribal members and citizens pointed out how Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum’s tone has changed in a little over a year when he released a statement after McGirt that the City remained committed to the strong cooperative relationship with MCN.
After almost an hour of taking comments, IAC voted to send a letter asking for the City of Tulsa to withdraw its amicus brief in Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta.
Instead of accepting a lapse of consideration for his constituents, Bynum has double-downed claiming cases are not being tried when referred to the federal and tribal courts.
Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation or the Mvskoke Media department.