Native American Treaty Rights

Oklahoma Indian Lands

Recently, SmithsonianMag ran an article titled "Hundreds of Native American Treaties Digitized for the First Time." You can access those treaties in the Indigenous Digital Archive Treaties Explorer

Many students are surprised to learn that Native American nations have special relationships with the United States Congress through treaties. While they have been modified (both in good faith and in bad faith in turns) and are typically very old, these treaties must still be honored by the federal government.

I wanted to combine access to these treaties with connections to a recent Supreme Court case, McGirt v. Oklahoma, which held that "land reserved for the Creek Nation since the 19th century remains 'Indian country.'"1

There is a phenomenal podcast that I started listening to last year about this case called This Land. It's very personal, detailed, professional, and accessible. In the  final episode of that podcast ("The Ruling"), you can feel the emotion and the passion, and the moment of terror when the creator opens up the decision to read it and find out the fate of their tribal lands.

The treaty in question in that podcast, from 1832, is available on that archive and also in transcript form:

Of particular interest is Article 14, which was cited in Justice Gorsuch's majority opinion. You can read the opinion from the official document linked above, or here on Oyez.

Article 14
Article 14 of the treaty between the United States and the Creek Indians, 1832. Original source.