Tulsa Attorney BlogOCCA Finds Peoria Tribe Reservation was Disestablished Then Re-established

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Tribe Remains Intact Today

Oklahoma lawyer James Wirth here, and today we’re discussing another case that stems from the landmark McGirt decision. This case explores the criteria for determining whether a tribe’s reservation has been disestablished. According to the precedent set in McGirt, if a tribal reservation was not explicitly established by Congress, it remains in full force and effect. This means that the state of Oklahoma and its counties do not have jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed by Indians within those territories.

Since the McGirt decision, there has been a closer examination of various tribal reservations to determine if they are still intact. The case we’re looking at specifically focuses on the Peoria reservation, although it also touches on the Ottawa reservation. The case is State v. Brester, 2023, OKCR 10, and it was decided on May 11th, 2023.

In this case, it was noted that the Peoria tribal reservation was established by a treaty in 1867. However, it was terminated on August 3rd, 1956, when Congress passed the Ottawa Termination Act. It’s interesting to note that this termination did not last long. As the case states, the policy of termination, however, was a failure. It lasted but 20 years before Congress reversed course and adopted a policy focused on reorganizing tribal sovereignty. This reorganization was carried out through the Reinstatement Act of 1978, which effectively undid the termination and restored all previous rights to the tribes.

After considering this history, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals determined that the Treaty of 1867 did establish a reservation for the Peoria tribe. Even though it may have been diminished or terminated by the Termination Act, Congress reinstated it with the Reinstatement Act of 1978. The language of this act makes it clear that all rights and privileges lost due to termination were reinstated. Therefore, the court concluded that the Peoria tribe reservation was re-established and remains intact in Ottawa County. As a result, the state of Oklahoma lacks jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed by Indians within the reservation.

Seek Tailored Legal Advice for Your Specific Circumstances

If you’re dealing with questions related to tribal sovereignty, the McGirt decision, or any criminal offenses in Oklahoma, it is crucial to seek specific legal advice tailored to your circumstances. Relying solely on general information from videos or articles may not provide the necessary guidance. To speak with a Tulsa criminal defense attorney at my office, visit MakeLawEasy.com. We offer free consultations and can provide the personalized assistance you need.

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