McGirt v. Oklahoma Supreme Court Decision: Treaties Upheld

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.

  • Professor Larry Roberts (Oneida) – Moderator, Executive Director of the Indian Gaming and Tribal Self-Governance Program and Professor of Practice at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law 
  • Stacy Leeds (Cherokee) – Vice Chancellor for Economic Development, Dean Emeritus and Professor of Law at the University of Arkansas 
  • Professor Robert Miller (Eastern Shawnee) – Faculty Director, Rosette LLP American Indian Economic Development Program and Pedrick Distinguished Research Scholar at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law 
  • Jonodev Chaudhuri (Muscogee Creek Nation) – Ambassador, Muscogee Creek Nation, Partner, Quarles & Brady 
  • Derrick Beetso (’10) (Navajo) – General Counsel, National Congress of American Indian

In November, 1L Ashleigh Fixico (Muscogee Creek Nation) presented on a panel “We Hold the Government to Its Word: A Conversation about McGirt v. Oklahoma.” 

Since the McGirt decision, ILP’s Federal Indian law experts Professor Leeds and Professor Miller have been called for consultation. 

Three weeks after the McGirt decision, Leeds was appointed a judge for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation—the tribe whose boundaries were affirmed in the decision—and continues to hear cases there throughout the year. She also published two articles about the McGirt decision, one dealing with Supreme Court trends and one dealing with Indian taxation.

Professor Miller who not only published his articles, also presented multiple times. Review the full list of his participation here.

This opinion was released during great strife due to the COVID-19 pandemic and continuing racial injustice, but it has brought renewed hope that in this modern era of self-determination for Indian Country the courts will continue to vindicate the rights our ancestors thoughtfully secured for us.  

____
Torey Dolan (’19)
Native Vote Fellow, Indian Legal Clinic, ASU Law

Danielle Williams
Program Coordinator Sr, Indian Legal Program, ASU Law

Prof. Miller interviewed on McGirt v. Oklahoma Supreme Court decision

Professor Robert J. Miller who teaches Federal Indian Law at ASU Law was interviewed by Voice of America – VOA regarding the recent McGirt v. Oklahoma Supreme Court decision. 

“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 the full interview here.

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10th Annual William C. Canby Jr. Lecture – The Bears Ears National Monument: A Breakthrough for Tribal-Federal Collaborative Management on Federal Public Lands

Hot Topic!!  New Designation of Bear Ears National Monument from President Barack Obama 

Public Lecture followed by Reception – Open to the Public.  Please RSVP.
Free CLE – 0.75 General CLE Credit will be offered.

2017canby-flier_wilkinson_sdoc-logoilp-wordmark

Can International Law Support Changes to Federal Indian Policy? Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Conference

April 19, 2013 – 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University
Great Hall, Armstrong Hall, 1100 S. McAllister Avenue, Tempe, AZ  85287
Free and Open to the Public – Registration requested.

Keynote Speaker:  S. James Anaya, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Agenda and registration online at:  http://conferences.asucollegeoflaw.com/drip/
Contact:  Darlene Lester / darlene.lester@asu.edu / 480-965-7715
Sponsored by the Indian Legal Program & the Center for Law and Global Affairs at ASU
CLE Registration $150.00 is available for Attorneys seeking  CLE credits.
CLE Credits: 5 CLE Credits for AZ & CA, 5.5  MCLE credits for NM
Live Web-streaming at:  http://law.asu.edu/undrip2013

Please Join Us!  Please help us spread the word about this important conference . 

 

 

Tempe Attorney Howard Shanker speaking in Natural Resources Law Seminar

Tempe Attorney Howard Shanker, who represented the Navajo Nation and others in litigation opposing the use of reclaimed wastewater for snowmaking on the San Francisco Peaks, will be speaking to Joe Feller’s Natural Resources Law Field Seminar on Thursday, May 10, at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at 2:00 p.m. in Room 110. ILP Faculty, staff, students and alum are all invited to attend.

Gonzalez v. State of Arizona

Gonzalez v. State of Arizona, No. 08-17094

http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/uploads/enbanc/08-17094pfr.pdf

Petition for Rehearing En Banc filed by the State of Arizona and Arizona Secretary of State:

Three-Judge Panel Opinion: 624 F.3d 1162 (9th Cir. 2010)

Order Taking Case En Banc: 2011 WL 1651242 (9th Cir. April 27, 2011)

Date of Order Taking Case En Banc: April 27, 2011

Status: Calendared June 21, 2011 at 2:00 p.m., Pasadena, California.

Members of En Banc Court: Not yet available

Subject Matter: Appeal by Arizona residents and Indian tribes in consolidated actions challenging validity of state Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote and proof of identification to vote in person at polls.

Amicus Brief in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder

The Indian Legal Clinic and Sacks Tierney filed an amici brief in the above-reference case regarding the constitutionality of the Section 5 preclearance requirements. Indian Legal Clinic Student Attorney Nikki Borchardt (3L), Adjunct Professor and ASU Alum Judy Dworkin and Professor Patty Ferguson Bohnee prepared the brief.

Brief of the Navajo Nation, Anthony Wounded Head, et al. Amici are concerned that if the Court declares that the reauthorization of Section 5 is unconstitutional, American Indian voting rights will be significantly impacted and result in a reversal of the strides made in recent years to ensure greater Indian voter participation. This would negatively impact many American Indian voters who only recently secured the right to vote, continue to face discrimination in voting, and who cannot shoulder the financial burden to bring lawsuits under Section 2 of the VRA.