Members of the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes unanimously passed a resolution commending “the diligent work of our law enforcement and criminal justice professionals.”
Each of the five tribes accepted expanded criminal justice duties after a July 2020 Supreme Court ruling and subsequent rulings of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the reservation of the Muscogee Nation and then the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole nations.
To meet these expanded criminal justice responsibilities, each of the governments of the Five Tribes expanded its police, prosecutor, and court systems. Tribal governments have also worked diligently to enhance their productive and cooperative relations with non-Tribal law enforcement agencies.
The resolution states, “the work of our Nations’ law enforcement and criminal justice professionals is an exercise of each Nation’s sovereignty and is instrumental to our ability to protect the public’s safety while we provide effective law enforcement for our citizens, the communities of our Reservation, and the general public.”
Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby said each of the Five Tribes has a longstanding commitment to public safety.
“We have always taken our responsibility to protect public safety and serve the citizens and communities within our reservation seriously,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “We have a long history of intergovernmental cooperation on which we can now build as we work to protect public safety and provide effective law enforcement.”
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said that tribes have acted quickly to address the results of the decision.
“The proof of our tribal nations’ solid commitment to public safety is clear,” Principal Chief Hoskin said. “The state had 113 years to create its criminal justice system and our tribes have done it impeccably in less than a year. Governor Stitt cannot imagine a world where vibrant and effective tribal governments – strengthened by the decision in McGirt – create more effective and comprehensive law enforcement than the state provides, and his lack of imagination does not limit our Nations, as we continue expanding our systems and achieving that goal, whether he wishes to be our partner or our adversary in improving public safety.”
Law enforcement and criminal justice professionals of the Nations have brought charges in 6,965 felony and misdemeanor cases as of September 30, 2021—with the Muscogee Nation prosecuting 2,771, the Cherokee Nation prosecuting 2,031, the Chickasaw Nation prosecuting 980, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma prosecuting 1,012, and the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma prosecuting 171.
This work has resulted in the issuance of 2,700 traffic citations—with the Muscogee Creek Nation issuing 577, the Cherokee Nation issuing 1,263, the Chickasaw Nation issuing 278, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma issuing 582.
“We are so proud of the incredible work our legal and public safety agencies have undertaken since the Supreme Court reaffirmed tribal sovereignty last year,” said Principal Chief David Hill, Muscogee Creek Nation. “Tribal law enforcement and court systems impressively expanded capacity in short order to keep Oklahomans safe; we are proud of the success and look forward to continuing progress and collaboration.”
Choctaw Nation assistant Chief Jack Austin, Jr. said that public safety is one of the most significant duties of Tribal governments.
“Our tribe has always been committed to a positive, cooperative relationship with our neighbors and other governments while maintaining our sovereignty,” stated Jack Austin Jr., Assistant Chief, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. “Expanding our criminal justice efforts, including providing aid to victims, is among our most important and sacred activities. We will always stand with and protect law-abiding people.”
Seminole Nation of Oklahoma Principal Chief Lewis J. Johnson said that cooperation with Federal, State and local governments is important to the Seminole mission of pursuing progress and prosperity.
“The Nation’s prime purpose is to raise the quality of life of our members by enhancing and positively impacting the lives of the Seminole People,” said Chief Johnson.
“The work of our Nation’s law enforcement and criminal justice professionals is an important part of exercising the Seminole Nation’s sovereignty. It is instrumental to our ability to protect the public’s safety while we provide effective law enforcement for our citizens, the communities of our Seminole Reservation, and the general public, who reside within the exterior boundaries of our Reservation.”