Oklahoma governor faces backlash from Native Americans for ‘Indian map’ comments made on Fox News

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Last week during an interview on Tucker Carlson Tonight (Fox News), Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt said in an interview that the State of Oklahoma, including the forces of order, had lost its ability to control and prosecute certain people based on whether or not they had – what he called – an “Indian card”.

Governor Stitt was commenting on the McGirt v. Oklahoma decision, where the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in July 2020 that much of eastern Oklahoma remains Creek Nation and Congress took no action. official measures to remove or diminish the reservation.

“It all started when McGirt, a child rapist, showed his ‘Indian card’ and had his conviction overturned,” Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt said. Tucker Carlson Livea popular conservative political talk show.

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Ultimately, the McGirt ruling means Native Americans who commit crimes on the reservation, much of eastern Oklahoma, including much of Tulsa, can no longer be prosecuted under local or state legal jurisdiction, but rather by tribal or federal courts.

During his interview, Governor Stitt omitted that the 72-year-old McGirt was later convicted and sentenced by the US Department of Justice to life imprisonment and five-year supervised release on two counts of charge of aggravated sexual abuse in Indian country and one count of sexual abuse. Contact in Indian country.

“If an Indian is involved, the state has lost jurisdiction to prosecute these crimes,” Governor Stitt said of Tucker Carlson. “When you think of who an Indian is, you can be 1/500th or 1/1000th; In fact, I have my “Indian card” and my six blond-haired, blue-eyed children all have their “Indian cards”. Thus, the police have a hard time telling who is an Indian in the eastern part of Oklahoma.

The McGirt decision was a historic decision for American Indian treaty rights, tribal sovereignty and is celebrated as a major victory for tribal governments and their inherent rights to govern themselves.

Governor Stitt is a member of the Cherokee Nation and opposed the decision, saying everyone in Oklahoma should be treated the same under the law. “The [McGirt] ruling created two sets of rules for Oklahomans, based on their race. In eastern Oklahoma right now there is not equal protection under the law,” said Governor Stitt at a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event in January. “He believed, as I do, that every citizen of this nation is afforded the same rights and opportunities under our Constitution.”

Tribes and tribal leaders have responded to Governor Stitt’s various comments, largely saying the governor supports a one-sided agenda that undermines tribal sovereignty.

“As a tribe of 410,402 citizens, we are grateful to the 410,401 Cherokee citizens who do not appear on television to undermine our rights and sovereignty,” the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma said on Twitter March 31.

Cherokee Nation Senior Chief Chuck Hoskins, Jr. told KOSU that the governor’s comments undermine the fact that tribes can provide public safety and that agreements have been reached with tribes and government forces. local order.

“Tribal nations, along with our intergovernmental partners, continue to keep our communities and neighbors safe, and we have expanded our criminal justice systems to handle our increased obligations,” Hoskin told KOSU. “We have dozens of agreements in place that allow law enforcement officers to continue to do their jobs, and we are disappointed that the governor continues to lie and disparage that job.”

Crystal Echo Hawk (Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma), executive director of IllumaNative, released a statement condemning Governor Stitt’s comments, saying his comments are divisive and aimed to garnish votes later this year as he faces a re-election.

“If you are a citizen of a tribal nation today, it means that at some point one of your grandparents survived a massacre, forced displacement or other form of genocide,” IllumaNative Founder and Executive Director Crystal Echo Hawk said in a statement. . “Being a citizen of a tribal nation is no joke, and it’s more than a Sam’s Club card.”

“We must stamp out racism and bigotry this year, starting with Governor Stitt and his anti-Indigenous administration,” Echo Hawk said. “The Aboriginal electorate is powerful. As election season approaches, we will support candidates who honor federal government promises and defend Tribal Nation’s inherent right to exist and govern.

The Supreme Court must consider whether the state [Oklahoma] is expected to have concurrent jurisdiction over non-Indians when they commit crimes on Indian “reservation lands” later this month.

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About the Author

Author: Darren ThompsonE-mail: This email address is protected from spam. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Darren Thompson (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) is a freelance journalist based in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, where he also contributes to Unicorn Riot, an alternative media publication. Thompson has reported on political unrest, tribal sovereignty and Indigenous issues for the Indigenous Peoples Television Network, Indian Country Today, Native News Online, Powwows.com and Unicorn Riot. He has contributed to The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Voice of America on various Indigenous issues in the international conversation. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminology and legal studies from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Nohemi M. Moore