Keith Harper, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and former U.S. Ambassador, offer his take on efforts to address the historic U.S. Supreme Court decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma:
On July 9, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in McGirt v. Oklahoma that the reservation established for the Muscogee Creek Nation by treaty was never “disestablished.” The legal presumption stemming from this historic decision is that it also applies to the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole nations due to their shared legal histories.
McGirt has been received in Indian Country with a celebratory spirit and for good reason. It is the most unabashed Supreme Court reaffirmation in decades of tribal self-governance and the durability of treaties. Its premise is that promises cannot be broken by passage of time and changed conditions. In Justice Neil Gorsuch’s profound words, “Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian reservation for purposes of federal criminal law. Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word.”
McGirt presents an opportunity for the tribes, federal government and state of Oklahoma to act in a spirit of greater collaboration. Because of the importance of tribal sovereignty, the stakes are high and the discussions have naturally become heated.
Read More in The Oklahoman: Point of View: McGirt is a chance for greater tribal-state cooperation