About half of the state of Oklahoma is an Indian reservation, according to a ruling by the US Supreme Court. The U.S. Congress gave the nation the Creek the land in a contract of 1833, the judgment released yesterday said.
Another treaty of 1856 also assured that no part of this country would ever be ceded to a state. „Since then, Congress has broken more than a few promises to the tribe,“ it said. „Nevertheless, the creek reserve still exists.“ The decision affected around 1.8 million people, including the approximately 400,000 residents of the city of Tulsa. The ruling has consequences for tax obligations and criminal law.
Other indigenous peoples may also be affected
The more than 570 nations of the indigenous people of North America maintain direct relationships with the federal government and are not subordinate to the states. This means that tribal members who commit crimes in the reserves can only be tried by their own or federal courts. Members of the Tribal Nations are also exempt from taxes in the individual states.
The nations of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole in Oklahoma could also be affected by the judgment. His starting point was the case of a man who was sentenced to a total of 1,000 years in prison in 1997 for raping a four-year-old and other crimes. The 71-year-old belongs to the Seminole.
The crime occurred in an area historically claimed by the Creek. With the new verdict, the verdict against the rapist should be invalid. However, he may have to face new charges before a federal court.
The Oklahoma government and President Donald Trump’s federal government had argued that the Creek had never received a reserve. If that was the case, Congress effectively canceled that status around the time Oklahoma became a state in 1907. The judges wrote that the word „reserve“ had not yet been used in the original contracts. However, similar cases left “no room for doubt” about this status.