US Government Documents related to Indigenous Nations


116th Congress, 2d Session



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This United States (US) Supreme Court case, decided July 9, 2020, clarified the boundaries of Indigenous land within the state of Oklahoma (OK) and, by extension, the limits of Oklahoma’s jurisdictional reach. Following the perpetration of his crimes in 1997, Oklahoma state court convicted Jimcy McGirt of three sexual offenses; however, McGirt contended that the state lacked the jurisdiction to try him for these crimes because he is an enrolled member of the Seminole Nation and because his crimes took place on the Creek Reservation (Muscogee Nation). Oklahoma argued that although an 1883 Treaty established a section of land for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, it was not called a “reservation” in the treaty and therefore was not federally recognized as such. The Supreme Court found that the term “reservation” was likely not in common use in 1883 but the language of the treaty clearly establishes the land as reservation land for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Oklahoma also argued that the allotment era disestablished the sovereignty of the reservation community, but the Supreme Court held that US public law does not indicate disestablishment. At stake in this case is the state of Oklahoma’s right to prosecute Indigenous people for crimes committed in a section of Northeastern, Oklahoma that encompasses most of the city of Tulsa. The Supreme court ruled in favor of McGirt, reversing the lower court’s ruling. Justice Gorsuch delivered the opinion of the court. Justices Roberts, Alito, and Kavanaugh dissented with Thomas (except as to footnote 9).

Publication Date



Supreme Court decision, jurisdiction, Major Crimes Act, Creek Nation, The Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Mvskoke, Seminole Nation, The Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, The Great Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, allotment era

Organizations Referenced

United States Supreme Court, State of Oklahoma, Creek Nation, The Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Mvskoke, Seminole Nation, The Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, The Great Seminole Nation of Oklahoma

People Referenced

John G. Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth B. Ginsburg, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh, Jimcy McGirt


Government Printing Office


American Politics | Indigenous, Indian, and Aboriginal Law | Indigenous Studies | Law and Politics | Native American Studies | United States History

Recommended Citation

McGirt v. Oklahoma 591 U.S. ___ (2020).

McGirt v. Oklahoma



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