- Jun 23, 2008
The ruling has a number of significant consequences for criminal law in the relevant portion of Oklahoma.
The first is that going forward, certain major crimes committed within the boundaries of reservations must be prosecuted in federal court rather than state court, if a Native American is involved. So if a Native American is accused of a major crime in downtown Tulsa, the federal government rather than the state government will prosecute it. Less serious crimes involving Native Americans on American Indian land will be handled in tribal courts. This arrangement is already common in Western states like Arizona, New Mexico and Montana, said Washburn.
"Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian reservation. ... Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word," wrote Justice Gorsuch.