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
The University of Tulsa College of Law - Master's in Indian 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:
Blackfeet Nation welcomes Interior Secretary Jewell to homeland (5/2)
Native Sun News: Family confronts man linked to woman's death (5/2)
Lakota Country Times: State shows cards in fight over sacred site (5/2)
Clara Caufield: Living in a state of emergency on my reservation (5/2)
Mark Trahant: Native newspapers and presidential endorsements (5/2)
Mark Charles: Politicians haven't learned from our genocidal past (5/2)
Kevin Washburn: Land buy-back program benefits Indian Country (5/2)
Ruth Hopkins: Tell indigenous youth that their lives really matter (5/2)
Peter d'Errico: Suicides are outcome of intergenerational trauma (5/2)
Indian Health Service reaches agreements for troubled facilities (5/2)
Native girl survives night alone in forest with help of three dogs (5/2)
Gathering of Nations wraps up with crowning of Miss Indian World (5/2)
University leader doesn't see seal that excludes Natives as racist (5/2)
New bill takes aim at casinos opposed by rival tribes in California (5/2)
Cloverdale Rancheria wins approval of casino land-into-trust bid (5/2)
Mashpee Wampanaog Tribe overcomes hurdles with casino plan (5/2)
Cowlitz Tribe aims to hire locals as casino construction continues (5/2)
Gathering scheduled in June at site of former BIA insane asylum (4/29)
Native Sun News: Tribal college student overcomes challenges (4/29)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Ancestors are gone but language lives on (4/29)
Mike Rounds: Eliminate 'hateful' and 'paternalistic' federal laws (4/29)
Harlan McKosato: White privilege fuels Donald Trump's fanbase (4/29)
Indian Health Service faulted for lengthy waits for patient care (4/29)
Mescalero Apache woman to compete for Miss United States (4/29)
Environmental Protection Agency pays little to tribes for spill (4/29)
Measure to declare bison as official mammal ready for Obama (4/29)
John Wayne's negative views about tribes resurface in debate (4/29)
Chumash Tribe picks Kenneth Kahn as first new leader in years (4/29)
Mille Lacs Band announces upgrades as casino marks 25 years (4/29)
Timbisha Shoshone Tribe sees warmer reception to casino bid (4/29)
Florida racks up legal bills in gaming fight with Seminole Tribe (4/29)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe sues Indian Health Service over shutdown (4/28)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee approves eight bills at meeting (4/28)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe to debut justice center (4/28)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne official fired from tribal job (4/28)
Native Sun News: Comments sought on Black Hills mine cleanup (4/28)
Editorial: Native Sun News endorses Hillary Clinton for president (4/28)
Cronkite News: EPA slammed for response to Gold King Mine spill (4/28)
Steve Russell: Donald Trump advisor accuses tribes of terror plot (4/28)
Alex Jacobs: Hillary Clinton must answer to role in Honduras coup (4/28)
Northwest tribes inch closer to reburial of Kennewick Man remains (4/28)
Santee Sioux Tribe hosts task force to address substance abuse (4/28)
Huge crowds flock to New Mexico for annual Gathering of Nations (4/28)
Muckleshoot Tribe to host $50K 'Gold Cup' for Indian relay racing (4/28)
Member of Puyallup Tribe develops 'Teepee' tribal directory app (4/28)
Man in long fight with Shingle Springs Band faces longer sentence (4/28)
Tunica-Biloxi Tribe enters gaming agreement with Mohegan Tribe (4/28)
Timbisha Shoshone Tribe sees casino as a path to self-sufficiency (4/28)
Forest County Potawatomi Tribe announces another hire at casino (4/28)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe welcomes rejection of rival casino bid (4/28)
Senate passes measure to include Indian Country in tourism plans (4/27)
Amanda Blackhorse to deliver commencement speech at Haskell (4/27)
Native Sun News: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe aims to stop pipeline (4/27)
Lakota Country Times: Pine Ridge artist gains national recognition (4/27)
Brandon Ecoffey: 'Bull Dawg' represents the Oglala Lakota Nation (4/27)
Mark Trahant: Tribes endorse Native candidates for US Congress (4/27)
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.