100 Year Mistake?

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

BRUNSWICK, OH, Oklahoma has had an interesting history especially when it comes to Native Americans. Oversimplifying it Native Americans were forced into Oklahoma in an event known as the Trail of Tears after white settlers kicked them out of their land. Now, we are learning that some of the territory may not have actually been formally taken away from the natives. About half the state of Oklahoma could instantly become an Indian reservation and 1.8 million people could be suddenly just be in an Indian territory.

“Indeed, while Congress has revoked treaties regarding other Indian reservations, it never did that in Oklahoma,” said Nina Totenberg, a NPR legal affairs correspondent

A man named Patrick Murphy was charged and convicted of murdering another person in the state of Oklahoma and sentenced to death. Murphy identifies as a Native American and is claiming that his crime was committed in an Indian reservation. This would help Murphy because his case would move from state to federal court because all crimes on indian reservations go through federal courts and as a result he may not get the death penalty.

“Under the Major Crimes Act, Murphy’s conviction was void and he was entitled to a retrial in federal court,” wrote Garrett Epps in an Atlantic article.

This however would not affect just one person. It would affect thousands of people that have committed a crime on this territory.

“There are 2,000 prisoners in state court who committed a crime in the former Indian Territory who self-identify as Native American,” she said. “This number is grossly underinclusive because, if the victim was Native American, the state court also lacked jurisdiction. That’s 155 murderers, 113 rapists and over 200 felons who committed crimes against children.” said Ms. Blatt who was quoted in a NY Times article.

There is also the question of how people’s lives will be affected by this ruling. If they rule in favor of Murphy then there may be different taxes and regulations that people may need to follow.

“Riyaz A. Kanji, a lawyer for the Creek Nation, said that state and tribal authorities already cooperate, and that a recalibration of their relationship would not cause major disruptions. “There will not be turmoil,” he said.” wrote Adam Liptak in a NYT article.

So the average joe may not even feel the effects of this change but only time can tell what will happen and how it will change  things.