On July 9, 2020, the Supreme Court issued its decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma and affirmed that the Muscogee Creek Nation’s reservation was never disestablished. The majority opinion strongly affirmed what Native people have known: Treaty rights are the Supreme Law of the land and do not fade with time. This historic decision is a strong vindication of the Muscogee Creek Nation’s treaty and a promising decision for all treaties.
In their 2L year, Dylan West (Choctaw) and Blair Tarman (Chickasaw) assisted Professor Stacy Leeds (Cherokee) on the Cherokee Nation’s amicus brief. Read the amicus brief on behalf of Cherokee here. Professor Leeds was the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community distinguished visiting Indian Law professor at ASU Law during Fall 2019 semester and taught Federal Indian law.
From this monumental and victorious decision, people of the ILP quickly took action and poured their energy into their work.
In his interview with the Voice of America (VOA) News, Professor Robert Miller (Eastern Shawnee) stated, “The Court is upholding this 1832 treaty that the Creek Nation signed with the United States, and is holding the United States to those promises.” Watch full video here. Miller also presented, “McGirt v. Oklahoma: Understanding the Decision and its Implications for Indian Country” for the Oregon Historical Society. Watch Miller’s presentation here.
Professor Larry Roberts (Oneida) said, “today’s decision is a significant win for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and for Tribal Nations across the country. With the Muscogee (Creek) Nation facing opposition from the Trump Administration, this Court made clear that treaties mean something – that they are the supreme law of the land,” in his article for ASU’s American Indian Policy Institute blog. Read blog more here.
“This opinion was not given without opposition, nor does it bar Congress from breaking the treaties in the future,” said rising 2L Taylor Norman (Muscogee Creek). “What it does mean, however, is that rather than kneel to lazy reasoning or racist objection, the Supreme Court of the United States did not break any treaties today.” Read Norman’s full piece here.
Joe Keene (’12) (Osage) and Candace French (’17) (Wichita and Affiliated Tribes) recently published an article for Sacks Tierney P.A. summarizing the McGirt case. Read the article here.
The McGirt decision sparked many conversations across Indian Country and to help bring further awareness and understanding, the Indian Legal Program hosted a case overview. “The most significant Indian Law case of the century: McGirt v. Oklahoma” webinar was held on Thursday, July 23.