Supreme Court Rules Half of Oklahoma is a Native American Reservation

The Supreme Court has ruled half of the state of Oklahoma is a Native American reservation, according to Reuters. The decision came because the court overturned a Native American tribe member’s rape conviction, as the location where the crime occurred should have been considered outside the reach of state criminal law. 

The justices ruled 5-4 in favor of Jimcy McGirt, a member of the Seminole Nation. He has served more than 20 years in prison after being convicted in 1997 in eastern Oklahoma of the rape, lewd molestation, and forcible sodomy of a four-year-old girl.

The Supreme Court justices agreed the rape site should have been recognized as part of a Native American reservation based on the historical claim of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. This would mean it would be outside of the jurisdiction of state authorities.

The decision marks the first time a large part of eastern Oklahoma is legally considered to be reservation land. More than 1.8 million people live in that part of the state. Tulsa, Oklahoma’s second-largest city, is also located there.

Oklahoma and the Native American nations “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 joint statement, according to Vox

Under federal law, members who commit crimes on tribal land cannot be prosecuted in state courts. Instead, they would be subject to federal prosecution.