WASHINGTON, D.C. (KSNT) – The U.S. Supreme Court made a decision on Thursday that ruled a large portion of eastern Oklahoma as a Native American reservation.
The question before the court came from Jimcy McGirt, a member of Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, who argued that his case should be tried by the federal government, due to the crimes being committed on the land of historic Muscogee Nation.
Under law, crimes involving Native Americans on a reservation are under federal jurisdiction instead of state. With the U.S. Supreme Court ruling the area as a reservation, Oklahoma prosecutors were unable to prosecute McGirt.
This decision also upheld a three-part test that the court must go through to determine if a piece of land is still considered an Indian reservation.
This test rules that if Congress clearly stated in the original executive order that they wanted to reduce the size of, or completely diminish the reservation, than it is not considered a reservation. Otherwise, it could be.
If a tribe in Kansas believes this may have happened to them, and they have documentation, they can use that as a strong argument to possibly win their land back, said University of Utah College of Law’s Dean Elizabeth Kronk Warner.
“I think that’s going to give tribes a lot of hope, and a lot of comfort, in the fact that they are not going to lose that hard-won, hard-bargained for treaty right that they have in the establishment of their reservation,” Warner said.
The Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office told KSNT News that they are reviewing this decision and the potential changes that it could have on Kansas during this time.