After murdering a vast majority of their ancestors and stealing their land, America has finally done something in favor of Native Americans. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled half of Oklahoma in the eastern part of the state is Native American land in a landmark decision made Thursday, the BBC reported.
The decision was made in McGirt vs. Oklahoma, a case which was brought by Jimmy McGirt, a convicted child rapist, who is a member of the Seminole Nation.
McGirt, 71, was convicted of raping a four-year-old girl in 1997. He argued only federal prosecutors could criminally try him because the crimes occurred on land that belongs to the Muskogee (Creek) Nation.
Citing the government’s decree that Oklahoma would be native land after the Trail of Tears, JusticesNeil Gorsuch and the other four liberal judges agreed, according to the BBC’s report.
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“Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian reservation for purposes of federal criminal law,” Gorsuch wrote. “Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word.”
McGirt’s prison sentence was overturned and others may follow suit, but leaders from the five Oklahoma tribes – Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole and Muscogee Nation – said anarchy would not prevail.
They pledged to work with state and federal authorities.
“The Nations and the state are committed to implementing a framework of shared jurisdiction that will preserve sovereign interests and rights to self-government while affirming jurisdictional understandings, procedures, laws and regulations that support public safety, our economy and private property rights,” they said in a statement.