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Press Release

United States to Accept Concurrent Jurisdiction Over Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Reservation in Minnesota

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Second Assumption of Federal Jurisdiction under Historic Tribal Law and Order Act

The Department of Justice has granted a request by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe for the United States to assume concurrent criminal jurisdiction on the tribe’s reservation in central Minnesota, Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates announced today.

The decision was the second assumption of jurisdiction granted by the Department of Justice under the landmark Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 (TLOA), which gave the department discretion to accept concurrent federal jurisdiction to prosecute violations of the General Crimes Act and the Major Crimes Act within areas of Indian country that are also subject to state criminal jurisdiction under Public Law 280.  Public Law 280 is the 1953 law that mandated the transfer of federal law enforcement jurisdiction for certain tribes to six states, including Minnesota.  The first assumption of federal jurisdiction took place on Minnesota’s White Earth Reservation in March 2013.

The decision will take effect on Jan. 1, 2017.  Tribal, state and county prosecutors and law enforcement agencies will also continue to have criminal jurisdiction on the reservation.  

“We believe this decision – made after a careful review of the tribe’s application and the facts on the ground – will strengthen public safety and the criminal justice system serving the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe,” said Deputy Attorney General Yates.  “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.  Strong law enforcement partnerships with the Tribe, as well as state and local counterparts, will be essential to the success of this effort.”

“We want to make certain that the outcome of this decision will benefit the residents of the Mille Lacs Band and improve the safety of the community,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger of the District of Minnesota.  “As we work towards full implementation, we will work to strengthen the bonds between our tribal and local partners in pursuit of our common goal of providing a safe environment where this community can thrive.”

The Department of Justice already has jurisdiction to prosecute certain crimes, such as drug trafficking, wherever they occur in the United States – including on the Mille Lacs Reservation.  The change announced today will expand this existing jurisdiction to allow federal prosecution of major crimes such as murder, rape, felony assault and felony child abuse.

The decision followed careful consideration of the request and information provided by the Mille Lacs Band Tribal government, as well as by the Justice Department’s Office of Tribal Justice, the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Minnesota, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. District Court, state and local law enforcement partners and other sources.

Updated January 12, 2016

Indian Country Law and Justice
Press Release Number: 16-037