Policy Design and Practice
Indigenous polities often face the consequences of decisions that emerge from processes outside of their control. The U.S. Supreme Court decision on McGirt v. Oklahoma in 2020, which recognized nearly a third of the state of Oklahoma as potentially within the jurisdiction of five Native American tribes, is one such example. The lawsuit generating this decision was a legal appeal by an individual–not a tribe–and may have implications that include recognizing tribal jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters throughout much of the state. The decision was celebrated by tribes and those advocating for greater recognition of their territorial authority. Yet, for tribal leaders and other practitioners of Indigenous self-determination, the decision potentially shifts major administrative burdens to resource-limited tribes. In an attempt to mitigate the significant costs of administering this territory, these tribes have initiated negotiations with the state of Oklahoma and local municipalities to clarify jurisdiction and coordinate administrative responsibilities. Outrage over these negotiations came from mostly academics and activists who perceived negotiations as a rejection of greater jurisdictional sovereignty. This paper uses the McGirt decision as a point of entry to explore differences in how practitioners and academics grounded in Indigenous politics understand the impact of policy shifts even when they further mutually desired commitments.
indigenous studies, jurisdiction, Native Americans, public administration
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Orr, Raymond and Orr, Yancey, "Victory for All, Administration for Some: An Examination of Differences in the Impact of Indigenous Jurisdictional Expansion in Oklahoma" (2021). Environmental Science and Policy: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.