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Modoc Nation says Northeast Oklahoma reservation never disestablished in wake of McGirt

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Attorneys for the Modoc Nation say the State of Oklahoma is improperly prosecuting Indigenous people on their reservation.

They recently filed a complaint in federal court against the state and Attorney General Gentner Drummond.

The Modoc Nation cites six cases that were brought before the local courts in Northeast Oklahoma between 2019 and 2021 that involved Native defendants who had their cases dismissed because the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals found the state lacked jurisdiction under McGirt v. Oklahoma to prosecute them.

They also claim that the Modoc Nation Reservation was never disestablished.

Lawyers for the tribal nation say Drummond is ignoring those dismissals and has ordered local prosecutors to prosecute cases involving Native people under the 2022 Castro-Huerta ruling. They cite letters sent to local District Attorneys from the Attorney General's Office.

The Modoc Nation is asking to halt prosecutions of Native people on Native land and are asking that their reservation be deemed never disestablished.

This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

Allison Herrera is a radio and print journalist who's worked for PRX's The World, Colorado Public Radio as the climate and environment editor and as a freelance reporter for High Country News’ Indigenous Affairs desk.
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