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DOJ files to intervene in Muscogee Creek v. Tulsa jurisdiction case

Muscogee Creek Nation
Posted at 12:56 PM, May 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-14 13:56:31-04

TULSA, Okla. — The United States Department of Justice filed a motion to intervene in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation v. City of Tulsa case on jurisdiction on May 13.

The MCN first sued the City of Tulsa in November 2023.

Muscogee Nation sues City of Tulsa

In the original suit, the Nation claims the city is unlawfully prosecuting Native people despite the McGirt ruling — which reaffirmed the Nation's reservation borders.

It also claims that the state and its political subdivisions, e.g., the City of Tulsa, don't have criminal jurisdiction over Natives within those boundaries without congressional authorization.

The DOJ's filing seeks declaratory and injunctive relief against the City of Tulsa, asking the court to clarify the standard of jurisdiction.

The filing also proposes a Complaint-in-Intervention. If granted by the court, the DOJ would become a party in the case because it argues it has a vested interest in the outcome of the case.

MCN Principal Chief David Hill said he is thankful for this development.

"The decision by the Department of Justice to step forward on our behalf is an affirmation of what we have said all along," he said. "The City of Tulsa is violating the law and tribal sovereignty to the detriment of public safety across the City."

Hill also said the DOJ's intervention shows a strong federal stance on the enforcement and respect of tribal sovereignty and treaty rights.

"This supportive brief from the DOJ not only reinforces the federal government’s duty to uphold the rights of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation but also sets a precedent for the respect of tribal sovereignty nationwide," he said. "We look forward to working together with federal authorities to ensure that justice is served.”

2 News reached out to the City of Tulsa for comment, but its spokesperson declined as it is pending litigation.

"The City does not comment on pending litigation as we are awaiting a decision on a current case surrounding this matter in the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals," the spokesperson said.

The Muscogee Nation and the City of Tulsa were most recently at odds in the Hooper v. Tulsa case, where a tribal resident received a $150 traffic ticket from Tulsa police and argued for it to be dismissed.

Hooper ultimately won the case.

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