Remains Intact Today.
Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals finds Ottawa tribe reservation was disestablished, then re-established, and remains intact today. I’m Tulsa Attorney James Wirth, and that is the topic that we have. Another one of these cases came out of the McGirt decision that found that the Muscogee Creek Nation was never disestablished, and therefore still remains intact today, which means the state of Oklahoma lacks jurisdiction to prosecute Indians for crimes that occur in that tribal reservation.
So now we have cases going for all these different tribal nations in the state of Oklahoma, finding out whether they were disestablished or not, meaning whether the state of Oklahoma has jurisdiction to prosecute Native Americans for crimes that commit in those geographic areas. And this video deals with the Ottawa tribe. And it comes from a new case. It’s State v. Brester, 2023 OKCR10. It was decided on May 11th of 2023.
The Ottawa Tribe’s History: Disestablishment and Reestablishment
This case is interesting for the Ottawa tribe and for some other tribes in Ottawa County because it notes that these tribal reservations were created by treaty in 1867. But what is different here is that the tribal reservations were actually disestablished through the Ottawa Termination Act in 1956. The tribal reservation was disestablished and it went on like that for about 20 years.
However, the court case here says that the policy of termination was a failure. It lasted but 20 years before Congress reversed course and adopted a policy focused on reorganized tribal sovereignty. This happened in 1978 under the Reinstatement Act. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals had to look at the tribal history to find out whether it was established, disestablished, reestablished, to find out what the current state of it is, looking at the precedent and the rules decided by the United States Supreme Court in McGirt.
Restoration of Tribal Sovereignty: The Impact on Jurisdiction
What the court found is that the Treaty of 1867 created a reservation for the Ottawa tribe. These reservations, even if diminished or terminated by each tribe’s respective termination act, were restored by Congress with the express and unqualified repeal of these termination acts in the 1978 Reinstatement Act, as well as with the express reinstatement of all rights and privileges lost in connection with the termination.
The state of Oklahoma argued in this case that the 1978 reinstatement act did not reinstate full sovereignty of that land, but the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals did not buy that argument. They found that it was fully reinstated based on the express language in that act.
Consult an Attorney for McGirt-Related Cases
The Ottawa Nation still remains a tribal reservation in the state of Oklahoma in Ottawa County, where the state of Oklahoma does not have jurisdiction for crimes allegedly committed by Indians on that territory. This means they would have to be prosecuted, if at all, in tribal court or in federal court, depending on the circumstances.
If you’ve got questions about McGirt, and how it may affect your case or circumstances, you’re gonna want to talk to an attorney specifically and confidentially about that. To schedule with an Oklahoma McGirt Lawyer at my office, you can do that by going online to MakeLawEasy.com. We offer a free consultation to discuss your situation and provide guidance.