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Mille Lacs Band hails return of federal jurisdiction on reservation

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians swore in five new police officers on January 7, 2016. Photo from Facebook

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians is welcoming the return of federal jurisdiction over its reservation in Minnesota.

The state assumed criminal and civil jurisdiction on the reservation through Public Law 280. But the federal government will be reasserting its role after the tribe requested action under the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010.

"This means the federal government has agreed to assume jurisdiction over the worst crimes on our reservation,” Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin said in her State of the Band address on Tuesday . “Those criminals can be prosecuted in federal court and will be sentenced to federal prison.”

The decision is the second to come under the 2010 law. The first was for the Yakama Nation in Washington.

“This is another step forward in the Justice Department’s commitment to serve and protect American Indian and Alaska Native communities, to deal with them on a government-to-government basis and to fulfill the historic promise of the Tribal Law and Order Act," Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates of the Department of Justice said in a press release. "Strong law enforcement partnerships with the Tribe, as well as state and local counterparts, will be essential to the success of this effort.”

The decision takes effect January 1, 2017. It does not divest the state of its role on the reservation.

Related Stories:
Yakama Nation reasserts authority after decades under PL280 (10/20)

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