Government , Legal

Standing Bear: ‘Osage Nation needs the right situation’ to challenge reservation status

With the U.S. Supreme Court ruling the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s reservation is still intact, what does this mean for the Osage Nation’s reservation claims?

In the case Osage Nation v. Irby, the Nation sought a declaratory judgment in District Court that all of Osage County was still Osage reservation land and was never formally disestablished. The suit also sought a declaratory judgment on whether the Nation’s members working and residing within the Nation’s geographical boundaries were exempt from paying state income tax and the Nation sought injunctive relief prohibiting the collection of income tax from tribal members.

Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear has said that if the Creek Nation was successful at the Supreme Court level, he would revive claims that the Osage reservation was never formally disestablished.

“This morning I called Chief Hill and congratulated the Muscogee (Creek) Nation on their victory. Now, the Osage Nation has to see if this new case will open the door to undo the Osage Nation vs. Irby case where the Osage Reservation was pronounced ‘disestablished,’” Standing Bear said. “That terrible case was decided by a federal judge in Tulsa in 2009 and supported by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2010. The United States Supreme Court chose not to review the case on June 27, 2011. 

“Now, because of the new Creek case, there will be people rushing to the door to try to get into court, which could end up with the same result. The Osage Nation needs the right situation to bring the case back to federal court for review. However, given the history of the issue, we might expect the uninformed and publicity seekers to once again try to highjack our sovereignty. I have been talking with our Attorney General and others today. I have sent a copy of the new case to the Speaker of the Osage Congress and to our Osage Nation Supreme Court.”

To read the 10th Circuit Court opinion in the case Osage Nation v. Irby, see: https://casetext.com/case/osage-nation-v-irby