By Sarah Gray
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt is a registered citizen of the Cherokee Nation, but he is not Indigenous. He is a white man determined to erode tribal sovereignty despite his numerous multi-million dollar legal losses against the tribes.
He continues to present his fraudulent tribal citizenship like a kind of “I’m an Indian, so it’s okay” card – but it’s not. It is erasure in action thanks to generational white supremacy. And that should be a trigger for every alarm, bell and siren in the Indian country.
What is the word for a citizen who actively and aggressively tries to destroy the government of his nation for political gain? It escapes me.
The McGirt decision is not in dispute
For Aboriginal people, the Supreme Court decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma is easily one of the most important SCOTUS decisions ever made. She was asserting what we already knew; our reservations have never been removed, and Oklahoma has violated jurisdictional boundaries for decades.
When Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the Court’s opinion, he said: “At the end of the trail of tears there was a promise. Forced from their ancestral lands in Georgia and Alabama, the Creek Nation was given assurances that their new lands in the West would be secure forever. Forever. McGirt deals specifically with the Muscogee Nation (and therefore the other four tribes whose treaty language is the same), but he sets a new precedent in federal Indian law that will impact the entire Indian country.
But Stitt is afraid of McGirt’s historic nature. He sees his power wane and his ego is too fragile to withstand the winds of change. He is a weak leader with an even weaker understanding of what it means to be indigenous. There are few things more dangerous than a weak and afraid man.
Anti-McGirt sign planned by white men
Grab the straws, Stitt convened a panel district attorneys, law enforcement and lawyers in his administration to allegedly discuss the impact of the landmark ruling. The anti-McGirt stunt was planned without input from tribal leaders or elders and was disguised as a community impact forum.
There were no natives on stage, but our presence was known to the audience. We were there on behalf of our ancestors, our children and the next seven generations of our people. I was incredibly proud to see our people fill the room. We didn’t allow the governor to get the footage and sound clips he wanted for his state-funded anti-native propaganda.
We must continue to show ourselves. I beg all of my brothers, sisters, Two Spirit parents and our allies. Please continue to introduce yourself. For the first time, we have a governor with tribal citizenship – and he’s using it to attack us. And with the national report on the genocide of our children on the horizon, it will only get worse.
We are capable, intelligent and resourceful people with developed legal systems, and we have the right to govern ourselves.
Please register to vote as a tribe and state elections. Please join me at every forum, public meeting, or panel discussing our sovereignty. Kevin Stitt tries to end the genocide that his ancestors started. He is trying to use his office to force our people to submit. Don’t let him do it.
Our people are in very real, very serious danger. We must protect the land that cradles our ancestors and provides for our needs. We must protect our sovereignty.