In a July 2020 Supreme Court ruling it was determined that the reservation of the Muscogee Creek Nation was never disestablished by Congress. After McGirt, in a series of rulings, the Oklahoma Criminal Court of Appeals ruled that the reservations of the other four Civilized Tribes: Cherokee Nation, Choctaw Nation, Chickasaw Nation and Seminole Nation and the Quapaw Nation, were never disestablished as well. The main resulting aspect of McGirt involves the criminal jurisdiction of cases that include major crimes involving Native people.
Since the Supreme Court ruling, as we've been forced to investigate Skye's case ourselves, we have watched in disgust as Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has continually attempted to mislead Oklahomans with his ridiculous claims against McGirt in attempt to persuade public opinion.
While Skye's death did not occur within any of the aforementioned reservations, we feel it is important to point out the contradictions in Governor Stitt's claims that McGirt has made Oklahoma a "lawless" state starting with the pictures provided in the photo gallery on this page that include a letter from Oklahoma's own former Attorney General, Mike Hunter, who has ironically since resigned.
On January 6th, 2021, three days before the one year anniversary of Skye's death, in reference to a situation within Muscogee Creek reservation in which two dogs were killed by another dog owned by a Native, Governor Stitt's Facebook post stated "a family's two dogs were killed by someone else's dogs, but the McGirt ruling prevents police from doing anything since the other owner is native"
While we feel for the loss of the dogs, allow me to point out that Skye's death occurred in OKLAHOMA'S jurisdiction and thus, McGirt is NOT preventing Oklahoma's highway patrol homicide unit from investigating Skye's death and yet here we are - no proper investigation and no justice. We have contacted the investigating officer's supervisor, our district's State Senator, the local DA's office, the OSBI, an Oklahoma Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board member as well as a three local reporters - all to no avail.
Because Skye's case hasn't been properly investigated and categorized, we cannot access various homicide victim's advocate services or rights that other families can. I have had to research organizations and various laws myself.
For those unfamiliar, Oklahoma state law established the DV Fatality Review Board, who's purpose is to review DV Fatality cases and identify gaps in order to improve community response - but I was informed that Skye's death had to have been ruled a homicide before the DV Fatality Review Board will consider reviewing it. Again, with no investigation comes the lack of a proper categorization to meet the criteria for a review. I am experiencing a gap in the ability to access the very board who's purpose is to identify gaps in the system.
Oklahoma state law mandates that one of the DV Fatality Review Board members is a non-Native DV survivor and one is a Native DV survivor. No disrespect to the survivors. I'm one myself, but survivors survive and therefore, don't personally experience the gaps in the system that DV homicide victim's families experience. Family members of DV homicide victims who experience the gaps Oklahoma's legal system need to be added to that board.
In 2018, Oklahoma passed Marsey's Law, which is meant to insure that the civil rights of crime victims and families of crime victims are upheld including their rights to participate in the criminal judicial process. The law assumes that all cases will be investigated with the same level of professionalism; however, it doesn't take into consideration that not all cases are treated the same - without racial bias by those with the legal responsibility to properly investigate crimes committed against them. Unfortunately, equal treatment doesn't always happen.
Without a proper investigation, a case cannot be correctly categorized and victims of color or families like mine aren't able to make it to the criminal judicial process. We are then re-victimized and denied access to the court and the civil ights afforded to other victims of crime.
It should also be noted that after months of no response to our inquiries of Skye's case, it was discovered that an investigating officer of Skye's case had publicly shared a racially biased post on Facebook which depicted two police officers standing in front of a residence with the caption "Are you all celebrating Thanksgiving in there?" and also depicted a black person standing at the door of the residence with the caption "No we're just looting and rioting". This blatant display of comfort in stereotyping the black community leaves us to question this investigating officer's potential to also stereotype Native people - potentially affecting the investigation of a young Native woman who was found unresponsive in the middle of night in the middle of winter.
Stitt has claimed that the McGirt ruling prevents equal protection under the law. On behalf of my daughter, I would like to know what Oklahoma's excuse is for failing to insure my daughter's equal protection under the law.
The narrative that Stitt continues to push, portraying the McGirt ruling as some sort of singular monster that "prevents police from doing anything" is a purposeful misrepresentation intended on creating resentment and division among the people he's supposed to serve.
Omission of truth is a lie and it's time for Oklahoma to consider the truths that Stitt is omitting from his narrative:
1) Though Stitt claims that McGirt has impeded investigations and has "torn Oklahoma apart", on February 22nd, 2022, Stitt participated in a press conference which highlighted the fact that over 200 law enforcement agencies, including the Choctaw Light horsemen, worked TOGETHER to bust illegal growing operations.
Contradictory to Stitt's usual claims, it IS possible for multi agencies - including tribal law enforcement, to work together to investigate, arrest and charge criminals whether they're in Oklahoma jurisdiction or within the reservation boundaries of the Five Civilized tribes.
2) The reservations of the Five Civilized tribes are not a first in Oklahoma. The Osage nation reservation has been here since day one and yet Osage tribal law enforcement and non-tribal law enforcement have co-existed effectively.
3) The McGirt ruling is less then two years old yet the Five Civilized tribes are actively working to meet the legal needs of those within their reservation boundaries. Oklahoma, on the other hand, has had since 1907 to develop and improve upon the legal needs of all residents of Oklahoma and is still failing miserably.
Stitt's attempts to portray the McGirt ruling as a sole problem in a state that already has hindrances to justice are as weak as his claim to Native ancestry.