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Stitt’s assault on tribes fails as Supreme Court lets core of McGirt stand

by Nate Morris
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The Supreme Court dealt a powerful blow to Governor Stitt’s ongoing attack on McGirt Friday, announcing the decision would stand. The decision, in response to over 30 lawsuits from across the state, denied requests to consider overturning the decision entirely.

The justices did, however, agree to hear a question of whether the state has jurisdiction over non-Native defendants who commit crimes on Native land.

In a statement to The Black Wall Street Times, the Muskogee (Creek) Nation celebrated the decision:

It is great news for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation that the U.S. Supreme Court in its order today declined to consider overturning the McGirt ruling that affirms our reservation and sovereignty.

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation will continue its vigorous engagement in the judicial process in support of our sovereignty and public safety.

Stitt has been actively fighting the McGirt v. Oklahoma decision since 2020. That decision recognized Muskogee nation as tribal land, removing the state’s authority from prosecuting certain major crimes on the land.

[READ MORE: Congresswoman Maxine Waters warns tribes to stop discriminating against freedmen descendants]

Many tribal leaders have offered collaboration and asked the Governor work with them in search of common ground, but the Governor has chosen to wage a legal war against the state’s original residents.

Governor claims “huge win” while continuing campaign against tribal sovereignty

Governor Stitt, along with his hand-selected Attorney General, sought to undo tribal sovereignty in a campaign against McGirt.

The Governor’s campaign has relied almost exclusively on anti-Native tropes that tribes are uncivilized, unAmerican and violent. In fact, in the state’s brief to the Court, it concluded McGirt had a “more immediate and destabilizing effect on life in an American State” than any case in recent history.

In a press release on Friday, Governor Stitt continued this rhetoric and called the Court’s decision to hear part of the state’s case “a huge win”.

“The fallout of the McGirt decision has been destructive. Criminals have used this decision to commit crimes without punishment,” Stitt’s statement read in part. “I will not stop fighting to ensure we have one set of rules to guarantee justice and equal protection under the law for all citizens.”

Tribal leaders across Oklahoma applaud Court’s decision, urge cooperation from Stitt

Cheif Gary Batton of the Choctaw Nation said in a statement:

“While the Supreme Court plans to address some effects of McGirt, today’s decision correctly recognizes settled law and tribal sovereignty.”

“As a nation, we will continue doing everything we can to protect our citizens and neighbors,” the statement continued.

Even as the Stitt administration presses against sovereignty, Batton hopes officials can “turn their attention to cooperation instead of conflict.”

[READ MORE: Tullhassee 30-day clean-up: Historically all-Black Freedmen town makes a comeback]

The Cherokee Nation also issued a statement in support of the decision, calling Stitt’s campaign against McGirt “blatantly political”.

The Nation said it was proud of its work to maintain public safety, “but it would have been more effective had the governor chosen to come to the table from the start”.

Cherokee officials acknowledged the fight ahead as the Court reviews part of McGirt, but remains focused on supporting all Oklahomans. “Regardless of the outcome,” the tribe said it will continue to “ensure the public is protected on Cherokee Nation’s reservation”.

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