Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

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





First Page


Last Page




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Archived as published.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.