Monday, November 30, 2020

Questions arise about Tulsa and the Creek Nation

In a 5 – 4 decision, the United States Supreme Court has thrown into question a number of issues, including wrongful criminal convictions, property and sales taxes, along with question about bank collateral.

The decision, written by Justice Neal Gorsuch, means that a large area of Eastern Oklahoma is still an American Indian Reservation and, as such, casts doubt on a number of issues, including the status of land or other property currently being held by commercial banks as collateral.

“The decision impacts about 2 million of our fellow Oklahomans,” said OBA President Roger Beverage. “The decision throws into question a number of things. For example, over the past 113 years there have been numerous criminal convictions which are now in doubt.

“Moreover, I’m not sure what this decision will mean for our member banks which are now doing business on tribal land. At a minimum it throws into question the status of real estate and other property that’s currently being held as collateral by member banks.”

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum has issued the following statement:

Muskogee (Creek) citizens founded Tulsa, and our successes and challenges are shared. They were before the Court’s opinion, and they will continue to be. We remain committed to the same strong cooperative relationship we have had for decades with the Creek Nation, and to the shared obligations among all jurisdictions – city, tribal, county, state and federal – to serve all Tulsans, city and tribal residents alike.

For most residents and most purposes, recognition of tribal boundaries will not even be noticeable. Importantly, the Court’s opinion does not affect private property ownership. Where there is any jurisdictional uncertainty, we will work with our partners to develop mutually respectful cooperative agreements, such as our intergovernmental Cross-Deputization Agreement, which has been working well for nearly two decades.

This decision will inevitably present further questions of jurisdiction and authority that will need to be resolved. I am grateful that this decision would arrive at a time when we have such a good working relationship between the City of Tulsa and the Creek Nation. I am committed to working with Principal Chief David Hill and his colleagues in the government of the Creek Nation to collaboratively address any issues as they arise.

Finally, I am certain Creek Nation officials join me in condemning the abhorrent crimes of the Petitioner in this particular case, and I’m confident that the Creek Nation and federal authorities will hold him accountable.

“We will continue to monitor this decision and its potential impact on member banks,” Beverage said. “At a minimum, what comes next is entirely new ground for us.”