Journey to Wellness in Indian Country: "'Each tribal victory; we have to take two steps back"

Oct 7, 2020

The Osage shield on the Oklahoma state flag shows a Plains-style ceremonial pipe representing Native Americans, and an olive branch representing European Americans. The symbols are meant to demonstrate "a love of peace by a united people."

Three months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the about half the land in Oklahoma is within reservation boundaries, a decision that not only had far-reaching implications for criminal law but which seemed to reaffirm some promises and treaties made with Indian people, the EPA invoked a 2005 law that effectively strips dozens of tribes of their sovereignty over critical environmental issues.

Democracy Now! reported:  In a statement to news outlet The Young Turks, Casey Camp-Horinek of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma said, “After over 500 years of oppression, lies, genocide, ecocide, and broken treaties, we should have expected the EPA ruling in favor of racist Governor Stitt of Oklahoma, yet it still stings.”

We asked Tadd Johnson, the Director of the Tribal Sovereinty Institute and the senior director of American Indian Tribal Nation Relations for the University of Minnesota, to explain some of the ramifications of the EPA's decision.