Whose Land? You be the judge!

This year the U.S. Supreme Court will issue a major decision concerning Native sovereignty in Oklahoma, potentially impacting every tribe in the country. Carpenter v. Murphy emerges out of a murder trial, but the larger story raises issues about the historic territory of the Muskogee (Creek) nation and contemporary consequences of the Doctrine of Discovery. Students will learn how legal precedents have resulted in diminished land claims and tribal jurisdiction. In Oklahoma, the Allotment Act resulted in the taking of “Indian Territory” promised to the Five Civilzed Tribes after their forced removal on the Trail of Tears. This case is NOT about whether Patrick Murphy is guilty or innocent but whether the State of Oklahoma rightly convicted him. The central question to answer: Was the location of the crime on land owned by the Muscogee (Creek) nation? If so, there are far reaching implications.


School name: 

Seattle Girls’ School

School district: 

Seattle, WA



Grade Level: 


Subject Area Focus: 

Social Studies/History

Estimated days to complete: 


Creator Name: 

Wendy Ewbank