State Jurisdiction over Tribal Lands

Earlier this year, the US Supreme Court made an unexpected ruling in favor of the State of Oklahoma which sets a brand new precedent. Previously, tribal lands and Indian reservations were subject to only their own legal oversight except for in cases of certain violent crimes and sexual offenses. In the 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court vastly expanded the power that states have over Native American lands.

While many tribes have welcomed the states’ prosecutorial bandwidth to help clear a backlog court cases, many worry that this could be the beginning of a slippery slope designed to pare down the sovereignty that Native American tribes have held closely for centuries.

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