MCN sues City of Tulsa over prosecutions, ‘make-believe legal theories’
By John Dobberstein, Editor
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation sued the City of Tulsa Thursday in federal court, alleging Tulsa is “deliberately and unlawfully”prosecuting tribal citizens for conduct occurring in the MCN’s Reservation boundaries.
MCN attorneys said this is happening in spite the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma, which affirmed that the Nation's treaty-defined reservation boundaries remain intact.
MCN said states and their political subdivisions “accordingly have no criminal jurisdiction over Indians within those boundaries absent Congressional authorization.”
Tulsa's ongoing prosecutions therefore violate federal law, infringe on the rights of Tribal citizens within the Nation's jurisdiction, and interfere with the Nation's federally protected right to self-government, MCN attorneys said — including the functioning of its own comprehensive and robust criminal justice system.
MCN said it agreed with Tulsa Mayor J.T. Bynum that litigation isn’t the preferable means to resolve Indian country jurisdictional issues.
“However, Tulsa is presently asserting criminal jurisdiction over individual Indians in the state and municipal courts, and aggressively so, notwithstanding clear and binding precedent against its practices,” MCN said in a news release about the lawsuit.
“Tulsa cannot reasonably expect the Nation to stay on the sidelines while Tulsa attacks its sovereignty within the Nation's Reservation in cases to which the Nation is not even a party.”
Principal Chief David Hill said MCN Nation continues to welcome government-to-government cooperation with the city of Tulsa.
“But we will not stand by and watch the City disregard our sovereignty and our own laws by requiring Muscogee and other tribal citizens to respond to citations in Tulsa city court because of the City's make-believe legal theories,” Hill said.
Geri Wisner, the Nation's Attorney General, said the nation is asking U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma to “require the city to follow the law."
In its response to the lawsuit, the City of Tulsa said the move is a “duplication of several lawsuits that are already pending in state and federal courts to decide these issues. As such, the City of Tulsa has no further comment at this time.”