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Cherokee Nation Makes Changes To Criminal Codes In Wake Of McGirt Ruling

The Cherokee Nation recently voted to update their criminal codes to be more in line with existing Oklahoma laws.The newly formed Commission for the Protection of Cherokee Nation Sovereignty recommended the changes in the wake of the McGirt v. Oklahoma Supreme Court decision.

“As we celebrate the McGirt decision and our sovereignty, we must also remain prepared to continue to protect public safety while addressing new legal challenges. Updating our criminal code will improve law enforcement on our reservation, and ensure that we are ready when criminal cases are dismissed in state courts,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “We also want to maintain order and consistency and avoid any confusion among the public and law enforcement officers.”

The revised criminal codes will make it a felony to commit domestic abuse against a pregnant woman, updates assault and battery domestic abuse laws and will make the controlled substance act more consistent with state laws. The latter is expected to help tribal citizens and business owners in the cannabis industry.

As part of the changes, $10 million has been proposed to be redirected from their general fund for law enforcement, prosecution and for the tribal courts.

Cherokee Nation Tribal Council is expected to vote on the spending increase next month.


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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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