I Mvto (thank) the Supreme Court for doing what is right, when history proves they didn’t have to.
Hensci! Nancy Deere-Turney Cvhocefkvtos, imetvlwv Quasartee, momen Imeliketv Nokvsvlke. Hello! My name is Nancy Deere-Turney, my tribal town is Quasartee and I’m from the Bear Clan. I am a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in Oklahoma. Today Indian Country was awakened with news from the Supreme Court. I say Indian Country because of this decision affects all of us. I screamed, I laughed (in disbelief), and even shed a tear.
My initial feelings are mixed between excitement for the future and pain for the past. I first want to acknowledge the families of the victims, who are enduring so much hurt, who are re-living this trauma. I apologize that you must return to this moment in the past. Another part of history that hurts is the constant reminder of how our people have been treated. Our rights have been trampled on since the beginning of explorers coming to this “new world.” They came, they saw, they raped, they murdered, and stole everything. They stole our children, our women, our men, things of earthly value, and the land. A pattern emerged from their behavior. If they wanted something, they just took it.
I was raised by my parents that stealing is wrong and that tricking people for your benefit is wrong. I know plenty of people with these teachings, but the lesson is always the same. You can call it Karma, you can call it the world’s work, or “Creator will take care of it.” No wrongdoing will go unpunished. That’s what we have told ourselves for years. I’ve sat in classes knowing my history and listening to someone else tell me how we “gave” this and “gave” that. Knowing our history was even stolen from us.
Today the Supreme Court gave a decision. This decision wasn’t about politics. This decision is about right and wrong. The Supreme Court ordered that about half of Oklahoma, formerly known as Indian Territory, is and should still hold their reservation status. This decision came because of the review of Major Crime Cases, and to determine who had jurisdiction.
I listened to the arguments, and my heart hurt for the misunderstanding of my people. I constantly asked myself “How can someone (Oklahoma’s attorney) who does not understand my Tribal Government, or what we do, stand before the highest court in this country and try and give reasons as to why we shouldn’t have jurisdiction.” I was frustrated. I didn’t know the specifics of the Treaty, and I didn’t know that we should have still had a reservation status. I, like many people in my tribe, was learning as this case developed.
When it was blatantly obvious that this was just another example of how Indigenous people were misled, and just straight looted from, I wanted to call the justices. I wanted to ask them “Did you not learn right from wrong?” The Oklahoma attorneys tried to paint this case as an “if you give them this win, you will cause chaos in Oklahoma.” This was disgusting.
Oklahoma’s attorney showed the state’s true colors and confirmed that they believe the treatment we were given was okay, as long as it wasn’t towards them. This country set their precedent long ago on how they treated Indigenous People. The results from this case for me was never about guessing if we were right, because I knew we should have jurisdiction. The results from today’s case are setting a precedent on how this country will treat Indigenous People moving forward. I was not disappointed today. Although victories are few and far between, I Mvto (thank) the Supreme Court for doing what is right, when history proves they didn’t have to.
Moving forward, this gives me hope. The trending hashtag #LandBack2020 has a whole new meaning. I have seen so much humor come from this. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are flooded with memes about this decision. Although they are hilarious, the racist reactions are a constant reminder that our fight is not over.
The land run is still celebrated not only in schools but also at the state capital. This is one of the biggest illegal activities that ever happened here, and if we can overturn hidden wrongdoings, then let’s stop pretending we have to be silent about all of it. This is only the beginning. Major Crimes committed on our reservation is now a federal court’s job, not the states. This opens the door to what else has been going on in our reservation that is no longer the state’s oversight. I look forward to the ironing out of what this will look like.
Mvto! (thank you)