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Governor of Oklahoma warns murderers are getting away with crimes by claiming to be Native American

Governor of Oklahoma warns murderers are getting away with crimes by claiming to be Native American 2

Oklahoma’s governor has warned that criminals are trying to avoid jail by claiming Native American ancestry, exploiting a 2020 Supreme Court ruling that limited state control among the population living on tribal lands and with confirmed tribal ancestry.

Kevin Stitt told Tucker Carlson that he had obtained a Native American Card, in what he said was a sign of how easily the system could be exploited.

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He told Carlson that ‘literally half our state’ was now off bounds to law enforcement thanks to the July 2020 ruling, which he said was causing a surge in crime.

Murders in his state were up 15.3 percent year on year, according to data released in December, and aggravated assault 10.3 percent. Violent crime as a whole had risen by 6.6 percent, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations reported.

The 49-year-old Republican said the situation was ‘a real mess right now for Oklahoma’.

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‘We have people on death row that are doing 23andme DNA tests trying to get their convictions overturned,’ Stitt said.

‘It’s preposterous.’

Kevin Stitt, the Republican governor of Oklahoma, appeared on Tucker Carlson's show on Wednesday night to discuss the impact of a 2020 Supreme Court ruling on his state

Kevin Stitt, the Republican governor of Oklahoma, appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show on Wednesday night to discuss the impact of a 2020 Supreme Court ruling on his state

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Stitt said the problem began with the 2020 Supreme Court ruling in the landmark case of McGirt v. Oklahoma.

Jimcy McGirt, a member of the Muscogee Nation, also known as the Creek Nation, was convicted of sex crimes against a child by the state of Oklahoma within the historical Creek Nation boundaries.

He was sentenced to life in prison on state charges after raping a four-year-old child in 1996.

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McGirt argued that Oklahoma could not exercise jurisdiction over him because under the Indian Major Crimes Act, any crime involving a Native American victim or perpetrator, or occurring within recognized reservation boundaries, is subject to federal jurisdiction, not state jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court ruled in McGirt’s favor, referencing an 1856 treaty that prevented the state having jurisdiction over tribal lands.

In August McGirt, now 72, was sentenced to life in prison on federal charges of abusing the girl.

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Yet the case he brought to the Supreme Court is now having a significant ripple effect, and Stitt said it was dangerous.

‘Basically this all started when McGirt, who was a child rapist, showed his Indian card and got his conviction overturned,’ Stitt told Carlson.

He pointed out that vast swathes of Oklahoma’s land were now classed as tribal land.

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Stitt said that almost half of Oklahoma's land, shown in the map with the tribal reservations to the east of the state, were now out of the reach of state jurisdiction

Stitt said that almost half of Oklahoma’s land, shown in the map with the tribal reservations to the east of the state, were now out of the reach of state jurisdiction

The Supreme Court found that the state has no criminal jurisdiction over the land — home to nearly 775,000 people and portions of its second-largest city, Tulsa — because Congress never formally dissolved the reservation’s boundaries when Oklahoma became a state in 1907.

The lands are owned by five Native American groups: Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole and Muscogee Nation.

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The Cherokee, with 392,000 members, was the largest of the 574 federally-recognized Indian tribes until last year, when it was overtaken by the Navajo Nation, which has 399,500 members.

Stitt said that the 2020 ruling had wreaked havoc on his state, putting much of the land out of state jurisdiction.

‘If you haven’t been to Oklahoma in a while, it’s literally half of our state,’ Stitt told Carlson.

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‘Think of Tulsa with a million people – we’ve now had a change of rules.

‘The state, if there is an Indian involved, has lost jurisdiction to prosecute those crimes.

‘Our police have lost jurisdiction.’

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Jimcy McGirt has been in prison since 1997 on charges of sexually abusing a four-year-old girl. He challenged the right of the state of Oklahoma to prosecute him, as a card-carrying member of a Native American tribe. His case went to the Supreme Court and in July 2020 he won, but he remained in prison and was sentenced instead to life on federal charges

Jimcy McGirt has been in prison since 1997 on charges of sexually abusing a four-year-old girl. He challenged the right of the state of Oklahoma to prosecute him, as a card-carrying member of a Native American tribe. His case went to the Supreme Court and in July 2020 he won, but he remained in prison and was sentenced instead to life on federal charges 

He said it was too easy to claim a Native ID card, which guarantees you rights as a citizen of the tribe.

Different groups have different rules.

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The Navajo Nation requires members to be at least one-quarter Navajo, in contrast to tribes like the Cherokee that forgo a specific blood quantum requirement in favor of largely basing citizenship on having Cherokee ancestry.

For Stitt, he could obtain citizenship because he could trace his ancestry back to someone whose name appeared on the 1906 ‘Dawes Roll’ – a list of people accepted between 1898 and 1914 by the Dawes Commission as members of the five tribes in the area.

Stitt’s ancestor, Francis Dawson, is accused of paying to be included in the roll, High Country News reported – an allegation that Stitt himself strongly denied.

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But on Wednesday night, he admitted the links could be tenuous.

‘When you think about who is in in, you could be one-500th, one-11,000th,’ he said.

‘I’ve gotten my Indian card. My six children with blonde hair, blue eyes, they all have their Indian card.

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‘You can’t tell who and Indian is and who is not an Indian in the eastern part of Oklahoma.’

Carlson remarked: ‘This is on the basis of race! Depending on the racial category you are in, you’re treated differently by law enforcement. Seems to be what you are saying.’

Stitt replied: ‘That’s exactly right. Cases all over the state.’

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He referenced the release in April 2021 of Daniel Vivier, one of three people convicted in the 2011 beating and robbery of an 85-year-old man.

‘One case I’d like to point out, Daniel Vivier,’ said Stitt.

‘Three bad guys beat an 85-year-old man almost to death, robbed him, stole his truck.

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‘One of them showed him the Indian card. He got out of prison.

‘The other two are still in prison. That’s not equal protection under the law.

‘One guy is out because of race and the other two people are still in prison.’

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Oklahoma, with 7.62 percent of its citizens calling themselves Native American, has the fourth highest population in the U.S.

Alaska has the highest, with 14.89 percent, followed by New Mexico and South Dakota.

New Hampshire, with only 0.15 percent, has the lowest percentage of Native Americans.

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