After decades of betrayals and broken treaties, the Supreme Court ruled that much of Oklahoma is their land, after all
The sorrow and death of the Trail of Tears were still fresh when a band of Muscogee (Creek) people gathered by an oak tree in 1836 to deposit the ashes of the ceremonial fires they had carried across America and begin a new home in the West. It was called Tulasi, or “Old Town.” Tulsa.
What followed were decades of betrayals, broken treaties and attempts to legislate and assimilate tribes out of existence. Then this week, the Supreme Court confirmed what the Muscogee (Creek) Nation has long asserted: That this land was their land.
“It’s so momentous and it’s immense,” said Joy Harjo, the United States poet laureate and a Muskogee (Creek) Nation member who lives in Tulsa. “It marks a possible shift. Not just for Muscogee Creek people, for all Native people.”
The court’s 5-to-4 declaration that much of Tulsa and eastern Oklahoma had long been a reservation of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation was seen as a watershed victory for Native Americans’ long campaign to uphold sovereignty, tribal boundaries and treaty obligations.