Leaders of the Cherokee Nation discuss legislation to address criminal jurisdiction issues in the state of Oklahoma during a May 10, 2021, call with the media.

The Cherokee Nation wants to be able to enter into compacts with the state to address criminal matters. The agreements would help resolve jurisdictional disputes that have arisen after the historic U.S. Supreme Court decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma, Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. said.

“It protects Cherokee sovereignty,” Hoskin said of a bill that is expected to be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“It protects a hundred percent of McGirt, but it gives us options to compact,” Hoskin added.

Cherokee Nation Attorney General Sara Hill said the bill is expected to be sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma), who is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation.

Prior to the press call, Chickasaw Nation Gov. Anoatubby said he supported the legislation.

“We support federal legislation that is based on the core principle of self-determination, clearing the way for us to work with the state as we navigate the best path forward. We look forward to working with our delegation to secure the passage of such legislation,” said Anoatubby.

In McGirt, the Supreme Court confirmed that the reservation of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation continues to be Indian Country. That means certain criminal maters cannot be prosecuted by the state of Oklahoma.

Since the July 2020 ruling, the Oklahoma state court system has confirmed that the reservations of the Cherokee Nation and the reservation of the Chickasaw Nation and of the Choctaw Nation continue to exist as Indian Country.