“Sovereignty” comes to Tulsa for a reading

Monday, June 18, see a staged reading of the buzzed-about new play by Oklahoma native Mary Kathryn Nagle.


This Monday, June 18, Tulsans will have the opportunity to attend a staged reading of “Sovereignty,” a new play by playwright, attorney, Cherokee Nation citizen and Oklahoma native Mary Kathryn Nagle at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. 

With direct ties to Oklahoma and its history, “Sovereignty” recounts the legal battle that established the foundation for sovereignty for all tribal nations across the United States. Nagle connects this sovereignty with the Violence Against Women Act, which was strengthened in 2013 and gave tribal courts the power to prosecute non-Native Americans who commit acts against Native women on tribal land. By setting the play in both the 1830s and today, Nagle connects the Cherokee Nation’s history to the present. 

Originally commissioned by and performed at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., Monday’s Oklahoma premiere will occur alongside the Cherokee Tri-Council, an annual gathering of the Tribal Councils of the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes: Oklahoma’s Cherokee Nation, the United Keetoowah Band, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Along with celebrating Cherokee culture, the event also recognizes the tribes’ continued sovereignty, which Nagle’s play highlights. 

As a practicing attorney at Pipestem Law, a Tulsa firm that focuses on the sovereign rights of tribal governments and Native people, Nagle is intimately familiar with the legal content of her play. In “Sovereignty,” she was able to combine her juridical passion with her creativity.

Not only political, Nagle’s play is also personal. Two of the plays characters — Major and John Ridge — who signed a divisive treaty for the Cherokee Nation, are Nagle’s direct descendants on her father’s side. 

Like Nagle when she moved back to her home state of Oklahoma, this “Sovereignty” performance in Tulsa returns the play to the place where much of its story took place. 


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