Quapaw Nation Is in Ottawa County, Oklahoma
Video Transcribed: Does McGirt Apply to the Quapaw Nation? I’m Tulsa attorney James Wirth, and we’re talking about the implications of the United States Supreme Court decision of McGirt that effectively said that many tribal reservations were never disestablished.
And that case was specific to the Muscogee Creek Nation, but we’re seeing it slowly apply to other tribes. It’s why they believe it’s going to apply to the five civilized tribes, but we’re also seeing implications that it could be applied to other tribes. And right now, we’re talking about the Quapaw Nation.
So the Quapaw Nation is a very relatively small reservation. It’s in Ottawa County, Oklahoma. And if that reservation is not disestablished, then just like it says in McGirt, that means that the state lacks authority to charge Indians with crimes that occur in that territory or people that committed crimes against Indians in that territory.
And what we’ve learned is that an Ottawa County judge has just ruled in a case that the Quapaw Nation was never disestablished. And it was interesting the way that it was done by that judge, a little different than what we’ve seen elsewhere. Essentially, what that judge did is allowed the defense to present arguments that the Quapaw Nation was established way back when.
And then it looks like it shifted the burden a little bit to the state to prove, “Okay. We have a tribal reservation. Here are the historic boundaries. Now, the state of Oklahoma, district attorney, prove to me that it’s been disestablished.”
And the state was not able to show any evidence that it was disestablished by Congress or in any other way. So the trial judge ruled the case dismissed. And because the state lacked jurisdiction to prosecute it because the Quapaw Nation reservation was never disestablished.
Now the state, in that case, gave notice of intent to appeal, which means that the case is not completely dismissed, it’s on hold because they now have filed with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals appealing that decision.
So we’ve got one judge in Ottawa County that has ruled that the Quapaw Nation was not disestablished, the reservation still exists. And now, we’re waiting for the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to review that decision. But there are indications that it is going beyond these five civilized tribes.
It is going to the Quapaw tribe, and it may go to other tribes as well. If you have a situation that may apply to you, or have questions specifically about how McGirt may apply to your circumstances, you’re going to want to talk to an attorney about your specifics. So for that, you can talk to me or somebody in my office by going to makelaweasy.com.