Supreme Court's earthshaking decision: Eastern Oklahoma is still Indian Country
July 16, 2020
On Thursday, July 9, the U.S. Supreme Court fulfilled its legal duty and moral obligation and returned three million acres of eastern Oklahoma to the Muscogee Creek Nation (MCN). This is the area comprised of the original boundaries of the Nation under the Treaty of 1866. This is a gigantic legal step forward for Indigenous people not just in Oklahoma but nationwide.
The decision rendered in the case of McGirt v. Oklahoma is the most momentous Indian law ruling in recent American history. It is earthshaking; a decision that has been awaited for over 100 years. The statehood of Oklahoma in 1907 dashed the dreams and aspirations of generations of Indigenous on the unrelenting rocks of racism when the state was admitted to the Union with the dismantling of the governments of the Five Southern Tribal Nations: Muscogee Creek, Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole.
Moreover, thousands upon thousands of tribal members were impoverished and African Americans living in the tribal areas were subjected to the horrendous system of Southern racist discrimination that was imposed with Oklahoma statehood. All were aware of the meaning of Euro-American state administration. Indeed, the barbaric Tulsa race riot of 1921 can be understood as a consequence of that statehood.