Protect Tribal Sovereignty: Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta

On June 29, in the case of Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta, the Supreme Court majority held that a state could prosecute crimes against Indian victims by non-Indian people even if those crimes occur on Indian reservations.

This was a violation of both treaty rights and the United States Constitution.  

In a shocking decision, Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote: “The Court today holds that Indian country within a State’s territory is part of a State, not separate from a State,” reasoning that “as a matter of state sovereignty, a State has jurisdiction over all of its territory, including Indian country.”

In a rebuking dissent to Kavanaugh and the Supreme Court majority, Justice Gorsuch stated: “Where this Court once stood firm, today it wilts. After the Cherokee’s exile to what became Oklahoma, the federal government promised the Tribe that it would remain forever free from interference by state authorities. Only the Tribe or the federal government could punish crimes by or against tribal members on tribal lands. At various points in its history, Oklahoma has chafed at this limitation….Where our predecessors refused to participate in one State’s unlawful power grab at the expense of the Cherokee, today’s Court accedes to another’s.”

This was a direct attack on tribal sovereignty and showed this Court’s desire to end tribal nations.

Congress must pass legislation immediately that returns the power of tribal nations to the tribes when a crime is committed on tribal land. Please fill out this form today to tell congress to act immediately to return the power to the tribes. They swore on oath to the constitution that declares, “All treaties shall be the Supreme law of the land.”