New Podcast Explores Connection Between a Murder and the Fight for Tribal Sovereignty

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Jun 11, 2019

Soon, a murder case will determine the future of the state of Oklahoma and the Indigenous tribes who have long occupied it. A new Crooked Media podcast, This Land, aims to chronicle the journey. From the show’s website:



Patrick Murphy was convicted of murder by the state of Oklahoma in 2000. But defense attorneys soon discovered that his conviction may have been based on a lie. Hosted by Rebecca Nagle, an Oklahoma journalist and citizen of the Cherokee Nation, this podcast will provide an in depth look at how a cut and dry murder case opened an investigation into half the land in Oklahoma and the treaty rights of five tribes. Follow along to find out what’s at stake, the Trump administration’s involvement, the larger right wing attack on tribal sovereignty and how one unique case could result in the largest restoration of tribal land in U.S. history.


The second episode of the show, “The Tribe,” dropped yesterday (June 10). It takes listeners to the reservation of the fifth largest tribe in the nation, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and introduces the tribe’s legal team as it travels to Washington, D.C. to argue in front of the Supreme Court.

Kevin Dellinger, attorney general for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, explains that he’s fighting for the land his tribe has lived on for the past 180 years because there was not only a treaty signed between the tribe and the U.S. that should be honored, but more importantly that the land, he says, “ties us to who we are, ties us to our sovereignty, and without the land we lose that.” This land spans across 11 counties in Eastern Oklahoma.The tribe is now in danger of losing it if the justices rule that the 1866 reservation boundaries for Creek Nation have been dismantled over the decades.

“That is the dilemma, so to speak, for the Supreme Court,” Dellinger said. “Are they going to stick with their principals and be a Court and rule in favor of Mr. Murphy and the tribes or are they gonna start just making stuff up?”

The justices could provide an answer to that question, Nagle says, anytime between now and the end of June.  

Listen to the full episode: