Opinion: Restore full jurisdiction to tribes
"Indian country is not just huge empty stretches of land in Montana, New Mexico, Arizona and the Dakotas; it’s also large swathes of well-populated Western Oklahoma. The U.S. Department of Justice — the only agency that can prosecute non-Indian felony offenders who commit crimes on tribal lands — doesn’t even bother to keep statistics on how many major crimes it prosecutes in Indian country, but the numbers are anemic to nonexistent.

So the word has gotten out to sexual predators and pedophiles; come on down to tribal lands and prey on the Indians. Not only will they likely never be prosecuted, but in many cases the tribal police are precluded from even arresting them even if they are caught in the act of committing a crime!

These tribes have courts, they have judges, they have prosecutors. They have police; in fact, some tribes (those fortunate enough to be blessed with large amounts of casino money) have better-equipped and -trained police forces than any of the surrounding sheriff’s departments or police departments.

Yet Congress and the Supreme Court, though acts of callously transparent racism, have transformed large portions of the United States into a lawless Wild West, where criminals can victimize the innocent with impunity.

This is happening today, not 500 years ago. Today. Regardless of the motivations of the people who organize and defend Columbus Day, the effect is a gigantic slap in the face to those surviving Indians in this country, not unlike the blasphemous effect of carving the graven images of white rulers into the sacred mountains of the Paha Sapa, the Black Hills, which the Lakota still refuse to surrender, in spite of a $757 million judgment against the Federal government for the theft, money one of the poorest tribes in America will not deign to accept.

Congress is holding hearings on the mass victimization of Indian women. The best solution would be to restore tribal sovereignty, repeal the odious Major Crimes Act and overrule Oliphant, which was based on a painfully contorted fiction of legislative intent in the first place."

Get the Story:
Patrick Barkman: Trail of Tears starts with Columbus (The Cleburne Times-Review 10/8)

Committee Notice:
OVERSIGHT HEARING on the prevalence of violence against Indian women (September 27, 2007)

Amnesty International Report:
Full Report | Press Release

Online Discussion:
Violence against Native American and Alaska Native Women (April 24, 2007)

Relevant Links:
Join Voices with Native American and Alaska Native Women and Take Action to Stop the Violence - http://www.amnestyusa.org/maze

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