Opinion: Gov. Kevin Stitt is an Indian Country Insurrectionist

by Sarah Gray
Published: Last Updated on
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mcgirt kevin stitt

Gov. Kevin Stitt and Tulsa District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler participate in a panel to address post-McGirt concerns on Tuesday, July 13, 2021 in Tulsa, Okla. The panel ended early as frustration grew among audience members with the panel. The U.S. Supreme Court case McGirt v. Oklahoma, found that the Muscogee (Creek) Nation had remained a reservation after Oklahoma became a state, despite the fact that those lands had been parceled off and sold to private owners. (Michael Noble Jr./Tulsa World via AP)

By Sarah Gray

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation, but he is not Native. He is a White man hellbent on eroding tribal sovereignty despite his many multimillion dollar court losses against the tribes.  

He continues to present his fraudulent tribal citizenship as some kind of “I’m an Indian, so it’s fine” card – but it’s not fine. It’s erasure in action through generational White supremacy. And it should be a trigger for every alarm, bell and siren in Indian Country. 

What’s the word for a citizen who is actively and aggressively trying to destroy their nation’s government for a political purpose? It escapes me.

McGirt ruling not disputable

For Natives, the Supreme Court ruling on McGirt v. Oklahoma is easily one of the most important SCOTUS decisions ever. It affirmed what we already knew; our reservations were never disestablished, and Oklahoma has been violating jurisdictional boundaries for decades. 

When Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the opinion of the Court, he said “On the far end of the Trail of Tears was a promise. Forced to leave their ancestral lands in Georgia and Alabama, the Creek Nation received assurances that their new lands in the West would be secure forever.” Forever. McGirt deals specifically with the Muscogee Nation (and consequently the other four tribes with identical treaty language), but it sets new precedent in federal Indian law that will impact all of Indian Country. 

But Stitt is scared of the historic nature of McGirt. He sees his power waning, and his ego is too frail to withstand the winds of change. He is a weak leader with an even weaker understanding of what it means to be Indigenous. There are few things more dangerous than a scared weak man. 

mcgirt kevin stitt

Brittany Dias counters claims made by the panel as others hold up signs and red cards for lies they heard from the panel to address post-McGirt concerns on Tuesday, July `13, 2021 in Tulsa, Okla. The panel ended early as frustration grew among audience members with the panel. The U.S. Supreme Court case McGirt v. Oklahoma, found that the Muscogee (Creek) Natioin had remained a reservation after Oklahoma became a state, despite the fact that those lands had been parceled off and sold to private owners. Michael Noble Jr. via AP

Anti-McGirt panel planned by White men

Grasping for straws, Stitt convened a panel of district attorneys, law enforcement and lawyers from his administration to supposedly discuss the impact of the landmark decision. The anti-McGirt stunt was planned without input from tribal leadership or elders and was disguised as a community impact forum. 

There were no Natives on stage, but our presence was known in the audience. We were there on behalf of our ancestors, our children and the next seven generations of our people. I was incredibly proud to see our people fill the room. We didn’t allow the governor to get the pictures and sound bites he wanted for his state-funded anti-Native propaganda. 

We have to keep showing up. I’m pleading with all of my brothers, sisters, two-spirit kin and our allies. Please keep showing up. For the first time, we have a governor with tribal citizenship – and he’s using it to attack us. And with the national reckoning over the genocide of our children on the horizon, it’s only going to get worse. 

We are capable, intelligent and resourceful peoples with developed legal systems, and we have the right to govern ourselves. 

Please register to vote in tribal and state elections. Please join me at every forum, public meeting or panel discussing our sovereignty. Kevin Stitt is trying to finish the genocide his ancestors started. He’s trying to use his office to beat our people into submission. Don’t let him. 

Our people are in very real, very serious danger. We have to protect the land that cradles our ancestors and provides for us. We have to protect our sovereignty.

mcgirt kevin stitt

Sarah Gray (left) turns her back as Okla. Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks at the “community impact forum” on the McGirt Supreme Court ruling. Photo provided.

Sarah Gray is a public relations professional who has worked on Democratic campaigns in Oklahoma.


gregbreakpointgmailcom July 16, 2021 - 6:19 pm

Great work Sarah. The Creek also are reliable Republican votes in every election. They have been told that Democrats threaten their oil revenue so they must support the party that is antagonistic to their very existence as POC. I have spoken to younger members (family members) to understand this monolithic support for the Republicans and I am told as always and the use of threats to tribal power and revenues, Threats are the tactic the white man has always used to control and block indigenous peoples success, This is how Trump won every county in the State and took the state by over 30% margins. There is a fear to oppose the ruling whites that shows up at the ballot box. Think about it. How can an avowed racist and proven grifter and convicted criminal like Trump, have so much support everywhere in Oklahoma?

evan haney July 17, 2021 - 3:22 am

Evan Haney
…before statehood the nations fielded representatives to negotiate with okla territory to argue sovereignty, lawlessness and the encroachment of illegal immigrants in indian territory. the argument, a ‘two-state’ solution….joy’s statement, ‘they were there because they were excluded by the state from a discussion about the mcgirt decision that directly involves tribal nations. no tribal nations were invited to the table.’…is exactly what happened during the stalled negotiations prior to 1907. taking their cue from pres. theodore roosevelt’s ‘bully pulpit,’ the issue was punted to congress. congressional hearings convened and the nations tribal leadership soon discovered they were banned from the hearings and were not allowed to address tribal concerns….without tribal representation, the 1906 ‘oklahoma enabling act,’ was passed….WE IN YO FACE THIS TIME, YOU $5 CHEROKEE.

Shullamite Diggs July 17, 2021 - 2:39 pm

Well written and insightful. Just as I suspected.

Louis Gray July 17, 2021 - 11:54 pm

great article. We need to stand together against tyranny and oppression.

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