Episode 234
Jul 14, 2020

The state of Oklahoma

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After last week's landmark Supreme Court ruling over Native land rights, that is.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that a huge section of land in eastern Oklahoma — about 19 million acres, including much of Tulsa — is an American Indian Reservation. That land has been a reservation since the Trail of Tears in the 1830s, when tens of thousands of Native Americans from different tribes were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma, with many dying along the way.

The U.S. government signed a treaty with the Creek Nation in 1832 that stated that “all their land, East of the Mississippi river” would belong to the United States while “the Creek country west of the Mississippi shall be solemnly guaranteed to the Creek Indians.” Over the years, the U.S. government has eroded those legal protections, and sections of the reservation have been sold to non-Native Americans. But in last week’s 5-4 decision, the court ruled those sales don’t change the land’s status as a reservation. The decision will have wide-ranging implications for the 1.8 million people living there.

Independent journalist Rebecca Nagle is a member of the Cherokee tribe and a descendent of signatories to the treaties that removed the Cherokee from their ancestral land and relocated them to Oklahoma. Her podcast “This Land” examined the case McGirt v. Oklahoma in depth. She’s on the show today to talk about that history, what changes for native and nonnative Oklahomans and what the decision could mean for native land rights elsewhere.

Later, we’ll hear from a student who’s opting out of “Zoom school,” and we’ll discuss flying “Pan-Am” (pandemic American).

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Here’s a list of some of the stuff we’re talking about today:

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The team

Molly Wood Host
Jody Becker Interim Senior Producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Sam Anderson Associate Producer