The McGirt decision was a victory for all of Indian country. The Cherokee Nation is now committed to addressing new challenges created by the decision while preserving our rights and land.
On July 9, 2020, the Supreme Court’s McGirt v. Oklahoma decision and subsequent state rulings recognized that the Cherokee Nation reservation, and the reservations of four other tribes in Oklahoma, had not been disestablished. Now, the Cherokee Nation is hard at work to protect sovereignty while fighting for the public safety and legal cooperation we need in the wake of the historic decision.
McGirt recognized that for over a century the state of Oklahoma had illegally acted outside of its jurisdiction by prosecuting cases on tribal land that should have been in tribal or federal court. After decades of the suppression of their justice systems, tribes are now working to expand their capacity and resources to ensure victims are supported and public safety is upheld.
As part of these efforts, the Cherokee Nation and other tribes are working closely with municipalities and local law enforcement agencies to ensure they continue to have the resources needed to protect public safety and deliver critical services. To handle expanded case workloads, the Cherokee Nation has hired additional prosecutors, marshals, and other key staff and has invested in opening new courts. The tribe has also increased funding for its criminal justice system by millions to meet McGirt-related obligations.
The Cherokee Nation also continues to file new cases in tribal court at an unprecedented pace in order to ensure victims can see justice and cases do not fall through the cracks, and is working with our federal partners as they do the same.
Unfortunately, the governor and the attorney general of Oklahoma have chosen not to join these efforts to protect Oklahomans, but instead seek to undermine cooperation by attempting to overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling.
The Cherokee Nation also supports congressional action that would allow for increased cooperation on criminal justice with the state of Oklahoma.The Cherokee Nation and Chickasaw Nation Criminal Jurisdiction Compacting Act of 2021 would strengthen tribal sovereignty by giving the Chickasaw Nation and the Cherokee Nation more options to address gaps in criminal jurisdiction, allowing for limited intergovernmental agreements with the state solely when both the tribe and state agree to do so.