indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Indian Law Online Master Degree - University of Tulsa College of Law
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Bill's tribal jurisdiction provisions contested
Thursday, July 31, 2003

The chief backer of a bill that would beef up Indian Country's homeland security efforts said on Wednesday he was "encouraged" despite seeing opposition to a controversial provision that affirms tribal sovereignty.

Blasting what he called "inflammatory rhetoric," Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) defended his proposal at a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing. Critics, he said, were making outlandish claims that equate Native Americans to terrorists.

"I would remind one and all that in all the military actions in which this nation has been engaged in," he told the crowded room, "more Native people of the United State on a per capita basis have gone to serve in the armed forces of our nation and placed themselves in harm's way than an other group of Americans."

"So to suggest that tribal governments are terrorists, or that citizens of this country are subject to attack by Native people is to make one of the most outrageous assertions I've ever heard," he added.

Inouye was referring to the Citizens Equal Rights Alliance, a national group whose members have spoken out against the bill. In letters to the committee and in news publications, CERA contends it will unlawfully expand tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians.

Inouye and other tribal leaders disputed the characterization, saying that S.578, amendments to the Homeland Security Act of 2002, strengthens law enforcement on reservations. They are arguing that the bill only authorizes tribes to arrest and detain those who commit terrorist attacks. The federal government, they add, will retain ultimate authority to prosecute and try criminals.

"If they read the legislation, it's pretty straightforward -- it's limited to [acts] of terrorism," said National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) President Tex Hall. "I think radicals are jumping to conclusions."

But a U.S. Attorney from Minnesota with Indian law experience said the provision will overturn the Supreme Court's Oliphant v. Suquamish Tribe decision, which held that tribal courts lack criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians. Thomas B. Heffelfinger, a Bush appointee, said the Department of Justice is opposed to the language as it currently stands.

"Overruling Oliphant in a broad and isolated manner could result in complicated legal and practical law enforcement issues such as those of due process concerns, double jeopardy, resources and appellate rights," he told the committee.

Heffelfinger, who heads a DOJ subcommittee on Indian Country issues, said government attorneys have developed a working group to address the 1978 Oliphant decision. He said it is possible to improve reservation law enforcement without expanding tribal court jurisdiction over non-Indians.

Nevertheless, the Bush administration supports the inclusion of tribal governments in homeland security planning, he testified. There are "potential terrorist targets" on the 54 million acres of Indian law that need protection, he said.

The language on jurisdiction is just a small part of the entire package, which seeks to treat tribes as sovereigns under the Department of Homeland Security. When Congress passed the bill creating the agency, tribes were defined as local governments, forcing them to compete with counties and municipalities for terrorism funding.

Section 13, however, is the most substantive and reads: "For the purpose of this Act, Congress affirms and declares that the inherent sovereign authority of an Indian tribal government includes the authority to enforce and adjudicate violations of applicable criminal, civil, and regulatory laws committed by any person on land under the jurisdiction of the Indian tribal government," except where limited by treaty and existing law.

The rest of the bill is mostly technical corrections to the 2002 act, adding tribes where necessary to ensure equitable treatment with states.

Inouye said he will work with the administration and tribes to make improvements to the bill.

Get the Bill:
Tribal Government Amendments to the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (S.578)

Relevant Documents:
Witness List (July 30, 2003)

Relevant Links:
Citizens Equal Rights Alliance - http://www.citizensalliance.org
Department of Homeland Security - http://www.dhs.gov
National Native Law Enforcement Association - http://www.nnalea.org

Related Stories:
Tribes air homeland security concerns (7/31)
DOJ's Supreme Court brief backs sovereignty (7/30)
Tribal jurisdiction faces test before Supreme Court (07/03)
Homeland security push leaves tribes behind (05/12)
Inouye ties sovereignty to homeland security (2/25)
Tribes told to explore health funding options (02/05)
Thompson releases new IHS budget (2/4)
In address, Hall invokes the seven generations (02/03)

Copyright 2000-2003 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Businesses show support for LNI tournament (3/27)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux fighter climbing in the ranks (3/27)
Mark Trahant: Alaska Natives look 10,000 years into the future (3/27)
Ivan Star: The influences of boarding school and Vietnam War (3/27)
Gyasi Ross: Funerals become family reunions in Indian Country (3/27)
Tim Giago hands over the reins as publisher of Native Sun News (3/27)
House committee passes Native American Children's Safety Act (3/27)
Bill to benefit Miami Nation moves forward in House and Senate (3/27)
City extended contract to send treated sewage to sacred peaks (3/27)
Oneida Nation welcomes ruling backing land-into-trust request (3/27)
Lawmakers want BIA to delay new federal recognition reforms (3/27)
Another conviction from Chippewa Cree Tribe corruption probe (3/27)
Editorial: Shakopee Tribe contributes $5M for health initiative (3/27)
Opinion: Navajo Nation enacts 'sin tax' on unhealthy products (3/27)
Editorial: Opposition to Pamunkey Tribe recognition 'revolting' (3/27)
Dennis Jenkins: Hypocrisy for new tribal casinos in Connecticut (3/27)
Supreme Court asked to hear Kialegee Tribal Town gaming case (3/27)
Ho-Chunk Nation extends agreement for off-reservation casino (3/27)
Indiana lawmakers seek role in Pokagon Band gaming compact (3/27)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux leader not pleased with boycott (3/26)
Lakota Country Times: Lakota Nation Invitational stays in Rapid (3/26)
Native Sun News: Mayor of Rapid City addresses race relations (3/26)
Jane Daugherty: Tribal e-commerce continues to draw scrutiny (3/26)
Witness list for Senate Indian Affairs Committee's field hearing (3/26)
Richard Iron Cloud: Remove murderer's name from sacred peak (3/26)
Native Youth: Bring dental therapy providers to Indian Country (3/26)
Steven Newcomb: Tribal nations still under dominating process (3/26)
Law firm hosts tribes for session on marijuana in Indian Country (3/26)
Judge upholds BIA decision on Oneida Nation land-into-trust bid (3/26)
Appeals court rules against Crow Tribe in housing grant dispute (3/26)
Ho-Chunk Nation raises minimum wage to $2.75 above federal (3/26)
Mishewal Wappo Tribe to appeal decision in recognition lawsuit (3/26)
Racist emails of former Montana federal judge to be preserved (3/26)
Shingle Springs Band considered but rejected indoor gun range (3/26)
House panel backs bill to block Tohono O'odham Nation casino (3/26)
Quapaw Tribe did not include casino on land-into-trust request (3/26)
Chumash Tribe never got apology for diplomat's casino remark (3/26)
Governor won't sign casino compact with Fort Sill Apache Tribe (3/26)
Cherokee Nation approves $6.9M renovation project for casino (3/26)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux veteran training for Paralympics (3/25)
Alaska Native musher Chuck Schaeffer completes 2015 Iditarod (3/25)
LTBB News: Michigan tribes come together for historic meeting (3/25)
Lecture focuses on repatriation of tribal intellectual properties (3/25)
Board still working on delivering money for Cobell scholarships (3/25)
Sen. Barrasso to chair field hearing on drugs in Indian Country (3/25)
Bill for tribal marijuana compacts up for hearing in Washington (3/25)
Choctaw Nation chief hopes to travel to Ireland for monument (3/25)
HHS urged to do more to help tribes with foster care programs (3/25)
Eastern Cherokees work to teach language to new generations (3/25)
Another suggestion for Indian woman on $20 bill -- Sakakawea (3/25)
Man from Crow Tribe cites self-defense in fatal casino shooting (3/25)
Shawnee Tribe sees opposition to off-reservation gaming plan (3/25)
Navajo Nation signs Class III casino compact with New Mexico (3/25)
Quapaw Tribe insists a casino isn't focus of Arkansas land plan (3/25)
Suquamish Tribe reaches deal to allow highway work at casino (3/25)
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.