- By Native News Online Staff
In the battle between state and federal government over who has surface mining jurisdiction on the Muscogee (Creek) Reservation in Oklahoma, a federal judge favored the feds last week when he shot down the state’s injunction.
The legal footing for the battle began last year, when the Supreme Court said that a chunk of land in eastern Oklahoma was never disestablished from the Muscogee (Creek) Nation's reservation, and is therefore sovereign tribal lands.
The implications of the McGirt vs. Oklahoma ruling—which effectively expanded the Muscogee (Creek) Reservation—allowed the Interior Department in April to take over mining jurisdiction on the reservation.
In response, Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt (Cherokee and Choctaw) sued the federal government to stop the jurisdictional change.
U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Friot wrote in his ruling on Dec. 22 that, while the case represents “a prime example of the havoc flowing from the McGirt decision,” his decision was also “legally unavoidable.”
Want more Native News? Get the free daily newsletter today.
While the Muscogee Creek Nation did not respond to Native News Online’s request for comment before press time, the tribe told News On 6 they “applaud the court for recognizing that each of the State’s arguments in this case were flawed and for affirming that the Muscogee (Creek) Reservation meets the definition of ‘Indian lands’ under federal statutes that regulate surface coal-mining operations.”
The statement went on to say: “This ruling represents another court, another rejection of the Oklahoma Governor’s obsessive assortment of challenges to the basic principles of tribal sovereignty affirmed last year by the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s long past time for the Governor to shut down his political campaign of obstruction and start working with Tribes for the benefit of all Oklahomans.”
More Stories Like ThisWabanaki Tribes Make Case for Self-Determination in Historic Address Before Legislature
SCOTUS Hears Arguments in Navajo Nation Water Rights Case
'POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE, LIKELY STOLEN': Native Nonprofit Educating Buyers About Indigenous Artifacts on Auction
Q&A: Kelli Mosteller (Potawatomi), Harvard University Native American Program
Leaders of Native American Church Pressure Biden Administration for Protections of Peyote Habitat
12 years of Native News
This month, we celebrate our 12th year of delivering Native News to readers throughout Indian Country and beyond. For the past dozen years, we’ve covered the most important news stories that are usually overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the rise of the American Indian Movement (AIM), to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous People (MMIP) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools.
Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps. If you’re in a position to do so, we ask you to consider making a recurring donation of $12 per month to help us remain a force for change in Indian Country and to tell the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.
Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.