Cherokee Nation files 1,000th case in tribal court following McGirt ruling

Shown is the Cherokee Nation’s courtroom at the Tribal Complex in Tahlequah. The CN has seen an expanded case load since the Supreme Court’s McGirt decision and subsequent Hogner ruling found that the CNreservation had never been disestablished.  

TAHLEQUAH – According to a Cherokee Nation press release, the CN has filed its 1000th case in its District Court since the Supreme Court’s McGirt ruling and subsequent Hogner decision found that the CN reservation had never been disestablished, and that Oklahoma had been improperly prosecuting cases outside of its jurisdiction for more than a century.

The release states the case, in which a Craig County defendant physically abused his wife, was dismissed in April following the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals decision finding the McGirt ruling applies to the CNThe release states that in anticipation of the ruling, the CN worked to ensure its justice system was prepared casetransfers and an expanded case load, while preserving tribal sovereignty. The victim has filed for a protective order and supports the continued efforts to prosecute the abuser, the release states.

“Since Indian Country’s victory in McGirt, the Cherokee Nation has made two priorities crystal clear: we will fight to protect every piece of our hard-earned sovereignty, and we will stand with victims and families to keep everyone on our reservations and our neighbors throughout Oklahoma safe,” said Attorney General Sara Hill. “By preparing proactively for case dismissals, expanding our judicial system capacity, and working closely with state, local and federal partners, our tribe has been able to continue to prosecute criminals and ensure continued justice.”

Before the McGirt decision, the CN would on average file six cases per month, the release states. It also states the tribe’s 1,000 cases filed during the past five months demonstrate the proactive post-McGirt preparations and its continued commitment to public safety while protecting sovereignty.

According to the release, the CN has also invested $10 million to expand its justice system. The tribe has added an additional eight marshals, for a current total of 37, and two District Court judges, six prosecutors and several victim advocates following the McGirt ruling.

“The McGirt decision that acknowledged our reservations were never disestablished is the single most impactful ruling in Indian Country in generations,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “We continue to work through all the challenges and meet our obligations under McGirt and are working daily to help protect citizens, support victims and families and remain the good partner in Oklahoma that we have always been.”

According to the release, the tribe also supports federal investigations and prosecutions as well as federal legislation that would protect 100% of the its sovereignty and authorize tribal-state compacting on criminal subject matter jurisdiction. 

The release states the Cherokee Nation and Chickasaw Nation Criminal Jurisdiction Compacting Act of 2021would strengthen tribal sovereignty by giving the Chickasaw and Cherokee nations more options to address gaps in criminal jurisdiction, allowing for limited compacts with the state solely when both the tribe and state agree to do so. The legislation would apply only to the Chickasaw and Cherokee nations, and would not affect other tribes, according to the release.