Tribes gain access to federal criminal databases with pilot program

The flag of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe flies in Arizona. Photo from Facebook

Tribes are finally gaining access to national criminal databases, six years after the Tribal Law and Order Act became law.

The 2010 law requires the Department of Justice to open federal databases to Indian Country. Progress has been slow but the first nine tribes are now moving forward with the Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information.

Through the program, Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona will be able to enter orders of protection and domestic violence criminal convictions into the National Criminal Information Center. That will allow orders of protection to be enforced off the reservation and will prevent people convicted of domestic violence from acquiring firearms on and off the reservation.

Warrants for people who flee the reservation also will be shared with other authorities. That will help the tribe extradite suspects and bring them back to face justice.

"The bottom line is that the TAP will close gaps and loopholes in our tribal criminal justice system and help us protect our community and we are thankful for the collaboration with our federal and state partners," Chairman Robert Valencia said in a press release.

Besides the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians of North Carolina, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community of Michigan, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, the Suquamish Tribe of Washington, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of Idaho, the Tulalip Tribes of Washington, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation of Oregon and the White Mountain Apache Tribe of Arizona are participating in the Tribal Access Program.

The Oneida Nation of New York had been selected for the program last November but is no longer a part of the effort, according to the Department of Justice.

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