The great conflict of modern-day federal Indian law is between the law and the politics of colonization. Cases before the Supreme Court—McGirt v. Oklahoma, Docket No. 18-9526, (McGirt) and Sharp v. Murphy, Docket No. 17-1107, (Murphy) (collectively, the Creek cases)—have put the power of the text to the test. These cases involve state criminal convictions of tribal citizens for acts committed within the historic boundaries of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s reservation in Oklahoma. In deciding these cases, the Court could determine if a large swath of Oklahoma lies within the tribe’s reservation boundaries (meaning, if Oklahoma loses, it will know that it never had the criminal jurisdiction it has assumed it possessed for a century). How did two criminal cases pave the way for this significant Supreme Court decision?
The Judges Journal: Tribal Courts
An often forgotten facet of our nation’s legal community includes a rich tapestry of tribal courts, all uniquely reflective of their own tribes’ rich history and culture. Our authors in this issue share a glimpse into not only the history and culture of Indian Country, but also how it intersects with federal and state law.