After a series of controversial rulings, last Wednesday the Supreme Court issued a decision in Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta that dealt a huge blow to tribal sovereignty.
Breaking with nearly two hundred years of precedent, the 5–4 majority opinion authored by Justice Brett Kavanaugh ruled that the state of Oklahoma can now prosecute crimes committed by non-Indian people against Indian victims on tribal lands. In most states, criminal jurisdiction is shared between tribal and federal governments with little interference from the state.
This ruling has been characterized as an assault on the foundation of Indian law and a threat to the integrity of tribal self-governance across the country. Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the dissenting opinion that “a more ahistorical and mistaken statement of Indian law would be hard to fathom.”
For today’s show, guest host Kristen Billings is joined by Mary Kathryn Nagle, a self-described sovereignty hobbyist, to discuss the Supreme Court ruling and how the performing arts can play a role in the fight for Indigenous sovereignty.
Mary Kathryn Nagle is a lawyer, acclaimed playwright, and enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation. She currently practices law in Washington, DC.