Big Case for Oklahoma Native Americans

For Oklahomans, this is a huge deal… When the US government stole tribal land in what is now Oklahoma, it forgot to formally disestablish the tribal borders. That means all those thousands of cases between the State of Oklahoma and Oklahoma Indians should be heard by federal courts, not state courts – at least that’s what a federal appellate court said in a criminal case in which one Indian was convicted of killing another in state court and appealed to federal court. It might also mean non-Indians with interests in what might now be considered tribal lands are governed by a different set of laws than they had thought. Beyond criminal cases, the oil and gas industry and others have taken an interest. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case. In the meantime, stakeholders in Indian Territory (aka Oklahoma) are nervous about what law applies.

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