New Mexico court affirms Pueblo jurisdiction

The New Mexico Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked the state from prosecuting Indians for crimes committed on private lands within Pueblo reservations.

The court said the boundaries of Pueblo reservations haven't been diminished by Congress even though some private lands may be owned by non-Indians. Therefore, only tribes and the federal government have jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed by Indians.

The decision came in two cases where the state prosecuted Indians for crimes that were committed on privately-owned lands in Taos Pueblo and Pojoaque Pueblo. The state argued that the lands no longer met the definition of Indian Country.

The state Supreme Court disagreed and said Pueblos are "dependent Indian communities" that fall under federal supervision.

While the case was proceeding, the House and Senate considered bills that would have clarified the issue in the same way the Supreme Court ruled.

Get the Story:
State Can't Prosecute Indians on Private Lands Within Pueblos, Court Says (AP 6/14)

Relevant Links:
New Mexico Supreme Court -

Pueblo Jurisdiction Legislation:
Pueblo Jurisdiction Act (S.279) | Native American Technical Corrections Act (H.R.3351)

Related Stories:
House passes Pueblo criminal jurisdiction bill (11/17)
Senate approves Pueblo criminal jurisdiction bill (07/27)
New Mexico Supreme Court takes on jurisdiction (02/15)
Bill clarifies criminal jurisdiction on Pueblo land (10/04)
U.S. attorney calls for jurisdiction fix in N.M. (04/19)