The Cherokee Nation announced that its reservation boundaries are now charted on Google Maps.
The borders include 7,000 miles in northeastern Oklahoma, which comprise the cities of Owasso and Collinsville.
Cherokee Nation’s decision to add the perimeters came in response to the recent ruling of McGirt v. Oklahoma, which determined that Oklahoma prosecutors lack the authority to pursue charges against American Indian defendants in much of the region.
“… We’ve had many questions about our reservation boundaries, which always existed on paper maps,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in a news release. “Now that our reservation is labeled on Google Maps, it’s easy for people around the world to search and see our reservation boundaries.”
The U.S. Supreme Court in early July redefined what for decades federal and state prosecutors thought had been “Indian Country” in eastern Oklahoma when it comes to crime enforcement jurisdictional purposes.
The court upheld challenges from two American Indians who claimed criminal cases prosecuted against them in state court should have been tried in federal court because Congress never disestablished the 19th century boundaries of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation.
“In response to July’s Supreme Court decision, we worked to evaluate authoritative data and then used this information to add labels and borders for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole reservations to Google Maps,” said Raleigh Seamster, program manager for Google Maps.
Cherokee Nation citizen Joseph Erb provided feedback about the reservation mapping project, which includes mapping for all Five Civilized Tribes.
“It is an exciting step forward to be included on the map,” Erb said. “This is a visual reminder that our nation is still here and a contemporary Indigenous nation of Continent.”
The City of Owasso is among nearly 50 municipalities across Oklahoma, including the City of Collinsville, named defendants in a jurisdictional class-action lawsuit following the McGirt v. Oklahoma ruling. The plaintiffs contend that the municipalities had no jurisdiction throughout the years to assess municipal fines and costs against members of the Cherokee Nation.