indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Court upholds state jurisdiction in Arapaho man's murder case
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Filed Under: Law

A city that lies within the original borders of the Wind River Reservation is no longer Indian Country, the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled on Monday.

In a unanimous decision, the court acknowledged that Riverton was once part of the reservation. But the city was removed in 1905 by an act of Congress that opened the land to non-Indians, the justices said.

"While the city of Riverton may be located on lands that at one time were within the external boundaries of the reservation, those lands are no longer part of the reservation, and are not 'Indian country,'" Chief Justice Barton Voigt wrote for the court.

The decision means the state has jurisdiction over crimes that are committed in Riverton. The Northern Arapaho Tribe and the Eastern Shoshone Tribe argued that the city is still part of their shared reservation.

The tribes asserted their rights in the high-profile case of Andrew John Yellowbear Jr., an Arapaho man who was found guilty of murdering his 22-month-old daughter, Marcella Hope Yellowbear, in July 2004. The victim's mother, Macalia Blackburn, who is also Arapaho, pleaded guilty to being an accessory.

"Marcella's parents were long time meth abusers," Arapaho Chairman Richard Brannan said in testimony last March to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

Yellowbear is serving a life sentence without chance of parole. Had he won his appeal, he would face prosecution in the federal system.

In the midst of his prosecution by state authorities, Yellowbear tried to move his case to federal court. But U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer refused to intervene and said he would wait for the state courts to resolve the dispute.

State officials contend the issue was in fact settled long ago. They cited three prior decisions from the Wyoming Supreme Court that said the Wind River Reservation had been diminished.

In a slew of cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has laid out the factors by which a reservation can be diminished. Courts must look to Congressional intent, as well as historical factors.

The Wyoming Supreme Court said the 1905 act was clear in its intent to diminish the Wind River Reservation. The tribes "do hereby cede, grant, and relinquish" their land rights in exchange for payment, according to language in the law.

The court also pointed out that 92 percent of the population in Riverton is non-Indian and that governmental services are provided through the state. "We conclude from all these factors that it was the intent of Congress in passing the 1905 Act to diminish the Wind River Indian Reservation and to remove from it the lands described as 'ceded, granted, and relinquished' thereunder," the court said.

In a second part of the ruling, the court said the trial judge erred in instructing the jury to find Yellowbear guilty of child abuse if he was aware of abuse but did not try to stop it. The court ordered Yellowbear's conviction and sentenced to be amended to reflect proper charges.

On a third issue, the court said the local county attorney did not commit prosecutorial misconduct during his closing statements in the trial. The court said the remarks, although "extreme," did not prejudice the jury against Yellowbear.

Get the Decision:
Yellowbear v. Wyoming (January 14, 2008)

Relevant Links:
Eastern Shoshone Tribe - http://www.easternshoshone.net
Northern Arapaho Tribe - http://www.northernarapaho.com

Related Stories:
Federal judge won't intervene in state prosecution (6/15)
Hundreds walk in memory of slain Shoshone child (7/5)
Federal judge won't intervene in state prosecution (6/15)
Wyoming tribes dispute state prosecution of murder (05/01)
Arapaho man convicted of daughter's murder (04/03)
Jury sees mother confessing to daughter's murder (3/23)
Arapaho man heads to trial for murder of daughter (03/06)
Judge won't move Arapaho man's murder trial (02/16)
Judge affirms state jurisdiction in murder case (01/24)
State jurisdiction at issue in Wyoming murder case (11/17)
Utah court blocks state jurisdiction on hunting (11/11)
Witness dispute in tribal member's murder trial (10/19)
Judge agrees to move tribal member's murder trial (08/23)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Activists take annual swim to Alcatraz Island (10/21)
Mark Trahant: Alaska Natives ready for conference and election (10/21)
Chelsey Luger & Gyasi Ross: From slow suicide to slow healing (10/21)
Bill John Baker: Addressing breast cancer in our communities (10/21)
ICT interview with Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn of BIA (10/21)
Navajo Nation court still mulling decision in presidential case (10/21)
Column: Billy Mills still inspires 50 years after Olympic victory (10/21)
Editorial: Winnebago Tribe's business makes a big contribution (10/21)
Suquamish Tribe shares fish from hatchery at annual giveaway (10/21)
Closure of Chukchansi Tribe's casino affects reservation water (10/21)
Eastern Shawnee Tribe considers casino on ancestral Ohio site (10/21)
Town meeting for Lac Vieux Desert Band off-reservation casino (10/21)
North Fork Rancheria won't give up off-reservation casino plan (10/21)
Tohono O'odham Nation was looking for off-reservation casino (10/21)
Poarch Creeks won't confirm or deny talks for gaming compact (10/21)
Tim Giago: Deaths of Native men in Rapid City remain unsolved (10/20)
Charles 'Chuck' Trimble: Let Crazy Horse's spirit rest in peace (10/20)
Mark Trahant: Races come down to turnout in three key states (10/20)
Native Sun News: Billy Mills wows youth at Black Hills Powwow (10/20)
Cedric Sunray: Tribes abandon traditional aspects of inclusion (10/20)
Dustina Gill: Vote for Rick Weiland to protect our sacred waters (10/20)
Ousted Project Runway contestant reaffirms Puyallup heritage (10/20)
White House Tribal Nations Conference takes place December 3 (10/20)
Bryan Brewer: Park helps Oglala Sioux Tribe protect its culture (10/20)
Robert Porter: Don't let tribal issues fall prey to partisan politics (10/20)
Gabe Galanda: Abramoff's playbook still used in Indian Country (10/20)
Jay Daniels: Let BIA make changes to rights-of-way regulation (10/20)
Mike McBride: Sovereign goodwill at a low in tribal tax dispute (10/20)
Top Navajo Nation court holds hearing in presidential dispute (10/20)
Eastern Shawnee Tribe to open resort at ancestral site in Ohio (10/20)
Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas selects Lester Randall as new leader (10/20)
Editorial: Address safety concerns about tribal hunts at night (10/20)
Chukchansi Tribe sends layoff notices to most casino workers (10/20)
Rivals raise nearly $16M to block North Fork Rancheria casino (10/20)
Judge won't let BIA proceed with compact for Pojoaque Pueblo (10/20)
Candidates discuss Menominee Nation's off-reservation casino (10/20)
Opinion: Suckers help Chumash Tribe finance casino expansion (10/20)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe buckles to pressure on park (10/17)
Mark Trahant: Native vote could tip races in Idaho and Colorado (10/17)
Crystal Willcuts: Remembering the beauty that was my mother (10/17)
Blackfeet actress Misty Upham found dead after going missing (10/17)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.