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