This Indian law CLE is hosted by Thomas Reuters West LegalEdcenter and is available for on-demand viewing. See more information here.
“Under an 1833 treaty, the United States and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation agreed to set aside land for the latter’s occupation in the Indian Territory, now encompassed within the eastern half of the State of Oklahoma. An 1866 treaty reduced the reservation’s size. Following the influx of non-Indian settlers in the latter half of the century and passage of various federal statutes to establish a uniform set of laws for both Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory residents, Congress in 1907 admitted Oklahoma to statehood whose boundaries combined the Territories. Thereafter, the State and its courts treated the Creek Reservation as disestablished and all residents, regardless of Indian status, as subject to state law. In a 5-4 decision, however, the Supreme Court held that the Reservation remained intact and overturned state-law felony convictions of Jimcy McGirt, an Indian, for conduct within the Reservation. The majority reasoned that that the Reservation was not disestablished by Congress and therefore remains Indian country subject the Major Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1153, and not state criminal law with respect to offenses committed by Indians of the type for which McGirt was convicted. McGirt v. United States, 140 S. Ct. 2452 (2020).
The McGirt decision raises substantial Indian-law doctrinal issues beyond the immediate question of reservation disestablishment. Ann E. Tweedy, Associate Professor, University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law, will explore those issues, particularly in light of other recent Supreme Court decisions and the Court’s changing composition. Anthony J. “A.J.” Ferate, Of Counsel, SpencerFane, is an Oklahoma practitioner with broad legal and governmental experience and will discuss McGirt’s on-the-ground impact.
The United States, four Tribes, the State of Texas, and private parties filed petitions for writ of certiorari in September 2021 seeking review of the Fifth Circuit’s closely-divided en banc opinion in Brackeen v. Haaland, 994 F.3d 249 (2021). In complex and multi-pronged constitutional challenges to various provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act and Administrative Procedure Act-based challenges to regulations issued by the Secretary of the Interior to implement ICWA, the court of appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part, and affirmed in part by an equally divided court without a precedential opinion a district court judgment that had accepted most of the challenges. Brackeen v. Zinke, 338 F. Supp. 3d 514 (N.D. Tex. 2018). It appears likely that the Supreme Court will grant review. Christina M. Riehl, Deputy Attorney General, California Department of Justice, Bureau of Children’s Justice, has been involved in the litigation from its outset through amicus filings on behalf of California and will discuss the constitutional issues raised by the certiorari petitions.
The program will be moderated by Tania Maestas, Deputy Executive Director, Attorney General Alliance.”