by Allan Wall, VDare, ©2022
(Jun. 29, 2022) — Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has jettisoned Roe v. Wade, maybe it can revisit another decision: McGirt v. Oklahoma and its companion, Sharp v. Murphy. Or maybe Congress might, you know, DO something? McGirt declared that the Sooner State cannot prosecute crimes in almost half its territory because they are committed on Indian reservations subject to tribal or federal jurisdiction. The state’s police and courts are paralyzed; violent felonies are going unpunished. Prison inmates of Indian extraction are trying to get criminal convictions overturned because they were imposed by state courts. Indians are even trying to evade state income taxes. It’s utter madness.
That madness was brought to us two years ago by Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch (always suspect in VDARE.com’s eyes) in alliance with the court’s Leftists: Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The McGirt-Sharp decision arose from two criminal cases from the 1990s, involving child molester Jimcy McGirt (right, in orange shirt) and murderer Patrick Murphy (right, lower). They argued that their trials in state courts were illegitimate and unconstitutional because Congress did not abolish Oklahoma’s Indian reservations when the territory became a state in 1906. Only tribes and federal courts, remember, have jurisdiction on reservations.
Anyone familiar with Sooner history will tell you that what the court claimed in McGirt is nonsense.
In the 19th century, Oklahoma was indeed Indian territory, where tribes from various parts of the country had been relocated and admittedly placed on reservations. But in 1901, Oklahoma Indians were declared U.S. citizens, several decades before the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. In 1907, statehood abolished reservations, then divided the land between Indian families and public sales. Indians participated in creating the new state and attended its constitutional conventions. Everyone understood that Oklahoma was to be a society for whites, Indians and black freedmen.
Even Wikipedia refers to the “Former Indian Reservations in Oklahoma.” And while at least one map purportedly shows one reservation, that of the Osage, what it shows is not a reservation. The Osage Reservation became Osage County, although the tribe retained all underground mineral rights.
The former reservations are also called Tribal Statistical or Jurisdiction Areas, within which a tribe has small properties that feature offices, police, courts, cemeteries, assembly halls, pow wow grounds, and for the paying paleface, casinos and travel plazas. But again, those are not reservations, even if for some tax purposes, many Indians are treated as if they are, and even if Oklahoma tribes issue license plates.
It’s a practical system. The tribes have a modicum of self-government and a constructive relationship with the wider society. They have a good deal.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs manages the rental of Indian farmland owned by Indians. My family, by the way, is among the many Oklahomans who rent that land.
But again, those lands upon which the tribes enjoy some few and defined privileges are not reservations within that term’s commonly accepted and understood meaning. Since 1907, not a single Oklahoma Indian tribe has lived on a reservation comparable to the Navajo Nation—almost 28,00 square miles in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico—or South Dakota’s 3,500-square- mile Pine Ridge Indian (Sioux) Reservation.
We know that because the tribes do not govern the “reservations” that Gorsuch and his Leftist allies called into existence by judicial fiat. And even by the quite expansive Oklahoma definition of an Indian, each tribe composes less than 20 percent of the population on those “reservations.”
McGirt’s result: In the 43% of Oklahoma within these so-called “reservations,” Oklahoma can’t prosecute crimes in which Indians are either perpetrators or victims. But the tribes and federal government in those areas can’t prosecute most of the cases because they don’t have the assets to do so.
As Chief Justice John Roberts warned in his dissent,”[T]he court has profoundly destabilized the governance of eastern Oklahoma”.
(The great Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that SCOTUS shouldn’t have heard the case at all.)
Oklahoma’s GOP Governor Kevin Stitt, himself a card-carrying Cherokee (see below), explained it this way: “The FBI is not prosecuting car thefts and burglaries, any kind of drugs, DUIs” [How The Supreme Court Turned Half Of Oklahoma Into A Lawless Land, by Jennie Taer, Daily Caller, June 22, 2022].
“We have people who are not afraid of the law anymore,”Sheriff Tim Turner of Haskell County was quoted as saying. “We’ve made everything in Oklahoma misdemeanors, simple drug possession, to fines under $1,000 misdemeanors, and we are decriminalizing, which is making the outlaws of Oklahoma more bold and more broad.”
On March 30, Stitt appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show:
So basically this all started when McGirt, who was a child rapist, showed his Indian card and got his conviction overturned. And for those of you that haven’t been to Oklahoma in a while, it’s literally half of our state. So if you think about Tulsa with a million people, we have now had a change of rules. The state, if there’s an Indian involved, has lost jurisdiction to prosecute those crimes. Our police have lost jurisdiction. And when you think about who’s an Indian, you could be 1/500th, 1/1000th. I’ve actually got my Indian card. My six children with blond hair and blue eyes, they all have their Indian card.
So our police are having a tough time because you can’t tell who an Indian is and who’s not an Indian in the eastern part of Oklahoma.
Maybe Senator Elizabeth Warren can help!
Seriously, taking the two criminals above as example, Jimcy (which actually an African name) may be mixed, but he really looks like an Indian. Patrick Murphy on the other hand, is a Black Cherokee, and a sheriff or state trooper would have no way of knowing he had an “Indian Card.” Neither man is getting out of jail—they’ve been resentenced in Federal Court.
All kidding aside, the situation is serious. Stitt described the case of three men who nearly beat to death an 85-year-old man. One skated out of prison because he showed his “Indian card.”
And Stitt warned that Death Row inmates are testing their DNA to overturn “unconstitutional” convictions.
See the video and read the rest here.
American citizen Allan Wall (email him) moved back to the U.S.A. in 2008 after many years residing in Mexico. Allan’s wife is Mexican, and their two sons are bilingual. In 2005, Allan served a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his Mexidata.info articles are archived here; his News With Views columns are archived here; his US Inc blog items are here, and his website is here.