States gain control over Native American crime

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The Supreme Court ruled that states can now prosecute non-Native Americans for crimes against Native Americans on tribal lands.

Stacy Leeds, ASU Foundation Professor of Law and Leadership came to talk about the decision to give a better understanding of what it means.

What is this law changing for Native Americans?

There had been a very well settled law since the 1800’s that stated when a Native person is involved in a crime, whether its the perpetrator or the victim, that case is out of reach from the state government and state territorial powers.

Now, the state has the power to prosecute non-Native Americans for these types of crimes, taking away the foundation of Native American rights, according to Leeds.

“It had long been understood, that where crimes take place inside of Indian country, a legal term of art that comes from federal statutes that say, Indian lands or Indian reservations, those tend to be off limits to the state, unless congress has stepped in and said otherwise in some unique circumstance,” Leeds said.

According to the majority opinion on this case, this is now a states constitutional right as opposed to an interpretation of the power of the tribe.

What is the response from the tribes?

“The tribes want public safety on their reservation, so their going to do what’s necessary to protect people from crimes,” Leeds said.

This may cause them to have to work closer to state officials to ensure the safety of the people on their land, according to Leeds.

Stacy Leeds, ASU Foundation Professor of Law and Leadership

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