The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that a large swath of Oklahoma belongs to Native American tribes in a huge win for a reservation that challenged the state’s authority to prosecute crimes on its land.
In the 5-4 decision, the majority ruled that the disputed area covering roughly half of the state and most of the city of Tulsa belongs to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
“Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian reservation for purposes of federal criminal law,” Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee, wrote for the majority. “Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word.”
The ruling could upend the state’s authority over much of the land and restrict it from prosecuting tribal members who are accused of crimes on the reservation. Oklahoma may no longer be able to tax those who reside on the Creek’s land.