indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 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:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: First Nations Sculpture Garden breaks ground (8/28)
Native Sun News: Lower Brule Sioux Tribe misses Cobell deadline (8/28)
James Giago Davies: There's trouble brewing on the racist horizon (8/28)
Simon Moya-Smith: A Republican slur on our indigenous relatives (8/28)
Kyle Mays: Connections between Creole and Native communities (8/28)
Mike Myers: Tribes deserve our own seats on international level (8/28)
Opinion: Supreme Court should pass on Jim Thorpe NAGPRA case (8/28)
Navajo Nation to reopen irrigation canal after Gold King mine spill (8/28)
Native executive wasn't surprised by 'No Natives please' rental ad (8/28)
Tribal members in Minnesota assert treaty right to gather wild rice (8/28)
County hopes to revive foreclosure lawsuit against Cayuga Nation (8/28)
Washington Supreme Court affirms legality of tribal gas compacts (8/28)
County sheriff questions authority of tribal officers in New Mexico (8/28)
Nooksack Tribe concerned about impact of slowly melting glaciers (8/28)
Supreme Court Justice Thomas favors conservative leaning briefs (8/28)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe prepares for decision on gaming plan (8/28)
San Manuel Band hires executive director for gaming commission (8/28)
Kumeyaay Nation still waiting to repatriate ancestors despite win (8/27)
IHS plans to expand service area for Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe (8/27)
Native Sun News: Health workers join together for race relations (8/27)
Ivan Star: Oglala Sioux government fails majority of our people (8/27)
Steve Russell: Donald Trump isn't the only crazy one in the race (8/27)
Harlan McKosato: Isleta Pueblo opposes city development plan (8/27)
Julianne Jennings: People of color must unite for justice or else (8/27)
Hillary Clinton campaign reaches out to tribal voters in Nevada (8/27)
EPA releases internal report into Gold King Mine spill disaster (8/27)
Southern Ute Tribe hosts top DOJ officials at crime conference (8/27)
Paper must ask to attend Eastern Cherokee council meetings (8/27)
Koi Nation praises charges against man accused of looting site (8/27)
Pokagon Band breaks ground on village with housing complex (8/27)
Tribes provide fire services on and off reservations in California (8/27)
Chumash Tribe signs new Class III casino compact in California (8/27)
Tohono O'odham Nation heading back in court in casino lawsuit (8/27)
Ak-Chin Indian Community announces $100M casino expansion (8/27)
Lower Sioux Indian Community debuts $22M casino expansion (8/27)
Little Traverse Bay Bands plan new development at old casino (8/27)
Seminole Tribe wins major ruling in taxation dispute in Florida (8/26)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee sets hearing on EPA mine spill (8/26)
Indian Health Service to hold a second meeting for LGBT issues (8/26)
Obama picks for National Advisory Council on Indian Education (8/26)
Native Sun News: Lakota grandmother debuts film about uranium (8/26)
Native Sun News: Miss Crow Fair thanks family for strong support (8/26)
Terese Marie Mailhot: Beware of vicious and deadly gossip on rez (8/26)
Former Navajo Nation leaders blamed for lack of women's shelter (8/26)
Man charged with murder of Crow Tribe couple could face death (8/26)
Former executives charged with theft from Chippewa Cree Tribe (8/26)
Northern Arapaho Tribe asks Obama to drop appeal in eagle case (8/26)
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.