Final Report October 1997

Report of The Executive Committee


Indian Country Law Enforcement Improvements



The Attorney General


The Secretary of the Interior

October 1997

U. S. Department of Justice
Criminal Division

Office of the Deputy Assistant Attorney General Washington, D.C. 20530

October 31, 1997






FROM: Kevin V. Di Gregory
Deputy Assistant Attorney General

Hilda A. Manuel
Deputy Commissioner of Indian Affairs

Co-Chairs: Executive Committee for Indian Country
Law Enforcement Improvements

SUBJECT: Final Report of the Executive Committee for
Indian Country Law Enforcement Improvements

PURPOSE: To provide the Attorney General and the Secretary with the analysis, findings, and options for improvements prepared by the Executive Committee in accordance with the Presidential DIRECTIVE ON LAW ENFORCEMENT IN INDIAN COUNTRY of August 25, 1997.

TIMETABLE: td> The President has requested options from you by
December 31, 1997


There is a public safety crisis in Indian Country. In recognition of this, President Clinton asked both of you "to work with tribal leaders to analyze law enforcement problems on Indian lands [and to] provide [the President] with options for improving public safety and criminal justice in Indian Country." The urgency of the situation required completion of this report by October 31, 1997, so that it could be included in the next budget cycle. An "Executive Committee for Indian Country Law Enforcement Improvement" was formed to help carry out this mandate.(1) Its views and findings are in the attached Report. Generally, the Executive Committee, in consultation with the Tribes, examined the issues and problems and determined that (1) a substantial infusion of resources into Indian Country law enforcement is essential, and (2) the delivery of law enforcement services must be consolidated and improved.

U.S. Attorneys led a series of tribal consultations on Indian Country law enforcement across the country during September and early October of 1997. In the lower 48 states, a total of 205 of the 332 Tribes (62 percent) participated in these consultations. There was a general consensus among the Tribes on the following issues:

Law enforcement in Indian Country, as it presently exists, often fails to meet basic public safety needs.

Serious and violent crime is rising significantly in Indian Country -- in sharp contrast to national trends.

The single most glaring problem is a lack of adequate resources in Indian Country.

Although the system must change, Indian hiring preferences and contracting/compacting guarantees must be protected under any new structure.(2)

The fragmented criminal justice system results in poor coordination, which can be remedied only by consolidating services under one authority.

Tribal governments do not consider the FBI to be an appropriate management structure for this purpose.(3)

The Executive Committee recommends the following two options for your consideration:


Consolidate the three major law enforcement programs under the line and budgetary authority of BIA's Office of Law Enforcement Services (OLES). DOJ will assist OLES by expanding the availability of technical assistance and training.


Transfer all three major law enforcement programs in BIA (criminal investigations, uniformed police, and detention services) to DOJ, maintaining Indian hiring preference and contracting/compacting authority. DOJ will create liaison positions to assure that community accessibility and tribal input on local law enforcement issues and priorities are maintained.


Indian Country Law Enforcement Improvements


Introduction 1


The Consultation Process: Findings 3


The Law Enforcement Crisis in Indian Country 4

Rising Crime 4

Deficient Resources 6

Funding Indian Country Law Enforcement 7


Options to Improve Law Enforcement Services 8

Option A 9

Option B 10

Implementation Overview 10


Estimated Costs and Staffing Issues 11

Basic Law Enforcement Needs 11

Detention 12

Training 12

Contracting 12

Liability Insurance 13


Appendix 13

Juvenile Crime and Gang Activity Tab A

Sexual and Physical Abuse of Children Tab B

Substance Abuse in Indian Country Tab C

Detention Operations Tab D

Training Needs Tab E

Summary of Preliminary Consultations with Tribes Tab F

Tribal Preferences as Stated in the Consultations Tab G

Executive Committee List Tab H



October 31, 1997


There is a public safety crisis in Indian Country. Leaders from the federal and tribal governments have examined the law enforcement problems and determined that a substantial infusion of resources into Indian Country law enforcement is essential. This report discusses the issues and presents two options that address these problems.

Basic law enforcement protection and services are severely inadequate for most of Indian Country. This problem affects more than 1.4 million people who depend on the federal government for these services.(4) Simply put, many American citizens living on Indian reservations do not receive even the minimum level of law enforcement services taken for granted in non-Indian communities. According to a 1997 census estimate by the Indian Health Service (IHS), there are 1,429,800 Indians residing on or adjacent to Indian reservations, allotments, and dependent Indian communities governed by federally-recognized Tribes. In the lower 48 states, these communities are spread across approximately 56 million acres, with millions of additional acres in Alaska. American Indians are one of the fastest growing minority groups in the nation, yet rank at the bottom of all minority groups in terms of life expectancy. Unfortunately, violence and crime are contributing factors. According to a 1996 IHS report,(5) the homicide rate for Indian males is almost three times higher than the rate for white males.

A reported crime in Indian Country is twice as likely to be violent as compared to crimes reported elsewhere in the United States. In contrast, there are fewer than half as many law enforcement officers per capita.(6) This is not a new situation; the problems addressed in this report developed over decades.(7) In the early 1990s, however, federal agencies with law enforcement responsibilities initiated an effort to re-examine and evaluate the federal government's role in ensuring public safety on America's Indian reservations.

The first step in addressing this process was President Clinton's Executive Memorandum on Government-to-Government Relations With Native American Tribes (April 28, 1994). Shortly thereafter, the historic 1994 Listening Conference was held in Albuquerque. There, the Departments of Justice, Interior, and Housing and Urban Development heard the concerns of tribal leaders. Issues of public safety and crime on reservations were recurring themes. As a direct response to the Listening Conference, the Attorney General created the Department's Office of Tribal Justice and issued the Department's Policy on Indian Sovereignty and Government-to-Government Relations (June 1, 1995). To address tribal concerns and improve law enforcement in Indian Country, a number of initiatives were undertaken, including the assignment of additional FBI investigators and federal prosecutors to Indian Country, and targeted Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) law enforcement projects. Furthermore, in November 1995, the Department of Justice launched the Indian Country Justice Initiative, an inter-departmental project specifically intended to explore and address the broad array of public safety needs in Indian Country.

As these efforts were implemented and continued to develop, some basic problems became apparent. The most glaring deficiency is a chronic lack of law enforcement resources in Indian Country. This realization lead to a series of informal meetings between the BIA and DOJ, and a preliminary tribal consultation on this issue was initiated in June 1996. As the discussions

expanded, new participants brought new information. It became clear that the law enforcement problems in Indian Country are severe.

In recognition of this, President Clinton asked the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Interior "to work with tribal leaders to analyze law enforcement problems on Indian lands [and to] provide [the President] with options for improving public safety and criminal justice in Indian Country." The Attorney General and the Secretary in turn appointed an "Executive Committee for Indian Country Law Enforcement Improvement," charged with carrying out this mandate.(8) The urgency of the crisis in Indian Country required completion of this report by October 31, 1997, so that any options selected that require additional funds could be included in the President's budget request for FY 1999. The views and findings of the Executive Committee follow.

Table of contents


Pursuant to the President's Directive, the Attorney General requested that the U.S. Attorneys with Indian Country jurisdiction hold consultations with tribal leaders. A series of tribal consultations about Indian Country law enforcement was held across the country during September and early October of 1997. In the lower 48 states, a total of 205 of the 332 Tribes (62 percent) participated in these consultations.(9) Specific issues common to the consultation process are discussed at Tab F. A general consensus was reached on the following issues:

Law enforcement in Indian Country, as it presently exists, often fails to meet basic public safety needs.

Serious and violent crime is rising significantly in Indian Country -- in sharp contrast to national trends.

The single most glaring problem is a lack of adequate resources in Indian Country. Any solution requires a substantial infusion of new money in addition to existing funds under the current tribal priority allocation (TPA) system.

Although the system must change, Indian hiring preferences and contracting/compacting guarantees must be protected under any new structure.

The current criminal justice system is fragmented, and the resulting poor coordination can be remedied only by consolidating investigative, police and detention services under one authority.

Tribal governments do not consider the FBI to be an appropriate management structure for the consolidated law enforcement services.

Table of contents


Rising Crime

Americans have come to expect protection of their basic rights, a sense of justice, and freedom from fear. A responsive, professional criminal justice system makes this possible. Uniformed police officers handle complaints, maintain order, and make arrests. Professional investigators handle serious or complex crimes. Jails and prisons house offenders; many provide appropriate treatment and other programs. Nearby magistrates set bail and judges hear cases. Probation officers make recommendations to the court and supervise probationers as well as those released from prison. To a large extent, what we take for granted exists only in a rudimentary form or does not exist at all for the 1.4 million Native Americans who live on or near Indian lands. Today, many Indian citizens receive police, investigative, and detention services that are not only inadequate, but also suffer by comparison to this country's poorest jurisdictions.

Information from the FBI, the BIA, U.S. Attorneys, researchers, and tribal leaders themselves depicts a stark contrast between public safety in Indian Country and the rest of the United States. Nationwide, for example, violent crime has declined significantly between 1992 and 1996. The overall violent crime rate has dropped about 17 percent, and homicides are down 22 percent. For the same time period, however, the BIA reports that homicides in Indian Country rose sharply.(10) Some Tribes have murder rates that far exceed those of urban areas known for their struggles against violent crime. In 1995, for example, the murder rate on Ft. Peck Reservation in Montana was more than twice that of New Orleans, one of the most violent cities in the United States. During 1996, the people on America's largest reservation, the Navajo Nation, endured 46 non-negligent homicides, resulting in a rate which would place it among the top 20 most violent cities.

Other violent crimes, such as gang violence, domestic violence, and child abuse have paralleled the rise in homicides. During fiscal years 1994 - 1996, 84 percent of the FBI Indian Country cases opened (4,334) involved either crimes of violence (48%) or the sexual or physical abuse of a minor child (36%). Violent Indian gangs, who model themselves after their urban counterparts, are a frightening new reality on many reservations. Drug abuse now has been added to the problems caused by alcohol.

There is broad consensus among law enforcement professionals and U.S. Attorneys in Indian Country that the situation is serious and merits urgent attention. Indeed, there is concern that available statistics understate the magnitude of the problem in many areas of Indian Country. A major finding of a recent DOJ Inspector General report on Criminal Justice in Indian Country(11) was that there is a pervasive "lack of reliable crime statistics in Indian Country...." Moreover, while law enforcement resources have been increased and deployed effectively throughout the United States, BIA resources actually have been reduced in Indian Country during the past few years.(12)

Indian Country is extraordinarily diverse in terms of size, geography, enrollment figures, government structure, resources, culture, language, traditions, and law enforcement capabilities. What has become common to too many Tribes is increasing violence, including juvenile crime, gangs, drug abuse, and the physical or sexual assault of children. Problem statements addressing specific criminal justice issues are included as Tabs A through D.

Table of contents

Deficient Resources

One of the most telling indicators of inadequate law enforcement services in Indian Country is the chronic shortage of personnel. For example, the 1996 UCR statistics show 2.9 officers per 1,000 citizens in non-Indian communities under 10,000.(13) The equivalent ratio in Indian Country is 1.3 officers per 1,000 citizens -- less than one-half the per capita coverage in small communities outside of Indian Country. Approximately 1,600 BIA and tribal uniformed officers must patrol the 56 million acres of tribal lands in the lower 48 states. On the 17.5 million acres owned by the Navajo Nation, the ratio of officers to citizens is only 0.9 per 1,000. Remote areas, poor roads, and no backup not only result in poor service to the people, but also stressful and dangerous jobs for the officers. On the Navajo Nation alone, two officers were killed in the line of duty in the last two years while patrolling alone.

In FY 1998, only 78 full-time BIA criminal investigators and the full-time equivalent of 102 FBI agents are available to investigate violent and serious crimes nationwide.(14) Although there are about 90 tribal investigators, they often handle tribal code cases and seldom appear in federal court except as witnesses. The total investigative capacity for Indian Country is inadequate, especially given the rise in violent crime. As an interim measure, DOJ has requested additional FBI agents and Assistant U.S. Attorneys in Indian Country to help handle the higher Indian caseload.

Detention services also suffer from grossly inadequate resources. There are 70 jails, including detention and holding facilities, located on 55 reservations. Most were designed to hold between 10 and 30 inmates, were built in the 1960s and 1970s, are outdated, do not offer sufficient bed space for current needs, do not meet jail or building codes, and present a threat to the health and safety of inmates. Only 10 of the 55 jails are juvenile facilities, even though bed space demand for juvenile offenders is rising rapidly. Many Indian Country jails house both adults and juveniles. Funds are not available for renovation and new construction, and very little is available to maintain existing buildings.

Jail operations are also poorly funded. Staffing levels fall far short of those required for adequate inmate supervision, thus creating a threat to the welfare of the community, staff, and inmates. Funds for needed inmate programs, such as education and substance abuse treatment, are virtually non-existent. Resources for equipment and supplies are such that, in some jails, inmates receive no blankets or mattresses and no basic hygiene items, such as soap or toothpaste. Staff sometimes buy these basic items with their personal funds. Finally, staff receive little or no training for the responsibilities and liabilities they face because (1) staffing levels are so low the jails cannot afford to lose an officer temporarily, and (2) funds are not available to travel to and attend the Indian Police Academy.

Table of contents

Funding Indian Country Law Enforcement

The Executive Committee's funding determination is a minimum figure necessary to bring law enforcement in Indian Country up to a basic level of services. Each Tribe's current law enforcement TPA allocation will form the baseline for that Tribe's law enforcement budget. Because this total figure represents the minimum amount needed to address these problems, funds must be dedicated solely for law enforcement services. Among the factors that will be considered in allocating these funds are the following:

Serious and violent crime rates and trends

Population and distribution

Geographic size, accessibility and infrastructure

Current sworn force and existing law enforcement resources

DOJ program grants and other assistance will continue as a separate funding source that complements community outreach, victim assistance and other programs related to basic law enforcement efforts. As a consequence of improvements to law enforcement services, a corresponding increase in funds is needed for judicial systems, especially tribal courts. As a first step, DOJ is requesting $10 million for FY 1999 and BIA is asking for $11.1 million to aid tribal courts through a variety of programs.


Numerous options to improve law enforcement in Indian Country were explored during consultations with the Tribes. Based on these consultations, the Executive Committee refined the range of possibilities and present for consideration the following two options. Both options assume significant funding increases above existing tribal allocation funds for law enforcement. Also, Option B assumes that Congress will give DOJ the necessary authority to contract/compact with Tribes and to offer Indian hiring preference.

The Tribes expressed little interest in options such as splitting functions between the Justice and Interior Departments or maintaining the status quo. Also, as a variation of the DOJ Option, the Tribes expressed no interest in placing all of the law enforcement responsibilities within the FBI. Some wanted no changes at all, just additional funds. A few others requested that Tribes be provided directly with sufficient funds for all law enforcement services. One variation on the BIA option was advanced by the Navajo Nation.(15) Accordingly, we have narrowed the options to two.(16) Also, based on feedback from the Tribes, the Executive Committee recommends designation of individuals to function as liaisons between each Tribe and the federal (and local) law enforcement community to improve accessibility and tribal input on local law enforcement issues and priorities. These persons could work out of U.S. Attorneys' offices or the appropriate field structure.

The options presented below include commentary that may be helpful to the deliberative process.

Table of contents


Consolidate the three major law enforcement programs under the line and budgetary authority of BIA's Office of Law Enforcement Services (OLES). DOJ will assist OLES by expanding the availability of technical assistance and training.


Standardizes and consolidates BIA's currently bifurcated law enforcement administrative structure. Presently, criminal investigators work within a professional law enforcement organization, headed by managers with law enforcement training. In contrast, BIA uniformed police and detention staff report to that reservation's BIA superintendent, who generally has no law enforcement background.(17) The elimination of fragmented responsibilities for law enforcement within BIA would allow BIA to build on its collective experience in delivering Indian Country law enforcement services.

Contains some of the same advantages of the DOJ Option, while allaying concern that the BIA is being dismantled.

Allows for the uniform application of standards, policies, and procedures within BIA law enforcement components.

A preliminary BIA analysis indicates that this consolidation may be possible under the 1990 Indian Law Enforcement Reform Act, thus eliminating the need for new legislation.

Because of the diverse mandate of the Department of the Interior, BIA may be unable to obtain or sustain adequate funding for law enforcement unless Congress requires a separate funding stream for that purpose.

Table of contents


Transfer all three major law enforcement programs in BIA (criminal investigations, uniformed police, and detention services) to DOJ, maintaining Indian hiring preference and contracting/compacting authority. DOJ will create liaison positions to assure that community accessibility and tribal input on local law enforcement issues and priorities are maintained.


Moves the law enforcement function to the Department with primary responsibility for federal law enforcement.

This assures that professional standards for investigative, police, and detention services in Indian Country would be met.

Brings the full array of all DOJ resources to bear on the deplorable condition of Indian Country law enforcement.

Helps insulate Indian Country law enforcement from budget cuts that may affect a more multi-function Department such as Interior.

Table of contents

Implementation Overview

Under Option A, the Interior Secretary would direct the consolidation of criminal investigators, uniformed police, detention services, and other related law enforcement activities under BIA/OLES. The Indian Law Enforcement Reform Act of 1990 appears to provide the Interior Secretary with the required authority. Necessary legislation would be identified and requested.(18) OLES would begin efforts to upgrade their training capacity. DOJ would establish a liaison mechanism with BIA and would support BIA's efforts through technical assistance and training. Also, DOJ would continue its existing grant programs to Tribes.

Under Option B, DOJ would ask Congress for enabling legislation to create a new Indian Country Law Enforcement Bureau, including authority to contract/compact with Tribes and to offer Indian hiring preference. A small headquarters and six field offices would be established. Simultaneously, the Interior Secretary would direct the consolidation of services as stated above. As part of an overall implementation plan, the ability to increase training capacity quickly is a priority. Also necessary are criteria for funding within program categories. Following Congressional approval, the functions, as well as both law enforcement and administrative personnel from OLES, would be transferred into the new DOJ bureau.

Under both options it would be necessary to develop a budget implementation plan and hire new staff.

Table of contents


Under any option, significant additional resources will be required to address the chronic and pervasive problems confronting law enforcement efforts in Indian Country. Additional resources are needed to create an effective uniformed police presence, to investigate major crimes in Indian Country, and to augment law enforcement management, administration, and oversight functions. In addition, resources are badly needed for a basic adult and juvenile detention capacity in Indian Country, including the construction, renovation, and operation of detention facilities. Where it is appropriate, funds are needed to contract for additional detention space. Imbedded in the options are several resource-related considerations which are discussed below, along with a discussion of cost estimates.

Table of contents

Basic Law Enforcement Needs

Given the current estimated population in Indian Country (1,429,800), a total of at least 4,290 sworn officers are needed to provide a minimum level of coverage comparable to that in rural America. Of that amount, about 15 percent should be criminal investigators and 85 percent should be uniformed officers. Adjusting for the fact that Indian lands in P.L. 280 states generally require only limited services from federal criminal investigators, a total of 496 criminal investigators and 3,647 uniformed officers are needed in Indian Country.(19) Therefore, an increase of 226 (from 270 to 496) criminal investigators and 2,047 (from 1,600 to 3,647) uniformed officers would be necessary to meet minimum standards. These increases will be necessary regardless of whether the law enforcement officers remain within a reorganized BIA or are assigned to a new DOJ agency. Also, clerical and support staff eventually would be needed at a level commensurate with the increase in sworn officers.

Additional Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSAs) are needed to support the increase in criminal investigators. Based on current standards in Indian Country, 1 AUSA is needed for every 3 investigators. Therefore, an additional 75 AUSAs (and commensurate support positions) are required to support an increase of 226 criminal investigators.

Table of contents


Detention needs in Indian Country involve funding for (1) operations, including staff, equipment, and supplies; (2) facilities, including maintenance, renovation, and new construction; (3) inspection and oversight; and (4) training and technical assistance. Most of the 70 jails in Indian Country are old, unsafe, and do not meet basic code requirements. At the same time, demand, especially for juvenile bed space, is rising. Initial costs for construction and renovation can be phased in over several years. The average, expected life of a jail is about 30 years, and most Indian Country jails were built in the 1960s and early 1970s. Once complete, however, about 80 percent of the budget should be for staffing. Funds are needed for augmenting current staffing and upgrading staff capabilities through training and technical assistance.

Table of contents


It is imperative that law enforcement officers receive full and appropriate training. The range of training options must include curricula and certification for investigators, first responders, jailers, and support staff. Currently, there is no site that can accommodate the needed training programs. Moreover, the training capacity must increase to accommodate a surge in students. Thus, a police academy is needed to handle current and future training needs. While adequate curricula exist, an appropriate site must be identified, such as a recently closed military facility. See Tab E for further discussion.

Table of contents


In 1974, Congress passed, and the President signed, into law the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (P.L. 93-638).(20) As amended, this law allows Tribes to enter into contracts for services in Indian Country that the BIA and some other federal agencies perform on Indian lands. Since 1995, the majority of Tribes have contracted all or part of their law enforcement programs, and all funds related to the contracted activity are provided to the Tribe. This includes funding for personnel, operating costs, and the indirect costs of performing the law enforcement function (such as personnel benefits, procurement, facilities management, and so on). For the most part, law enforcement funds are mixed with all other contracted/compacted funds and can be shifted to other needs as determined by the Tribe.

Under any option, the practice of contracting/compacting services must be preserved because it is central to tribal self-determination. Therefore, if the law enforcement function is transferred to DOJ, P.L. 93-638 must be amended to allow the Attorney General to enter into contract agreements with the Tribes. In addition, mechanisms must be put into place to ensure that law enforcement funds are used only for law enforcement purposes.

Table of contents




There are two realities that have fueled the rise of juvenile crime on Indian lands during the past several years. First, after decades of stable birth rates, the fertility rate in Indian Country began to rise sharply during the 1970s. The 1990 Census reports that, while 26 percent of all Americans were under the age of 18, 34 percent of the Indian population was in this age group. The Census Bureau estimates this trend will continue, with a projected Indian population of 4.3 million by the year 2050. In the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona, an area struggling with gang problems, approximately one-half of the population is projected to be under 18 by the year 2000.

Second, the old termination policies and the constraints of reservation life have made economic sufficiency and traditional culture more difficult to sustain. American Indian communities confront difficult social and economic conditions not generally characteristic of other U.S. communities.(21) Chronic unemployment, low levels of educational attainment, geographic displacement, and family disruption help foster the rise in juvenile crime now confronting Indian Country.

ealing with Indian Country juvenile crime is complex. Intelligence on Indian youth gangs can be extremely difficult to gather in light of overlapping jurisdictions, geographic remoteness, and understaffed and overworked FBI, BIA, and tribal law enforcement. Where detailed records are kept, the news is not encouraging. A 1997 BIA survey, with 132 participating Tribes, estimates 375 gangs with approximately 4,650 gang members on or near Indian Country. Tribal police on the Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin report two organized gangs and a 293 percent increase in juvenile arrests between 1990 and 1994; for the same period, there was only a 45 percent increase in adult arrests.

Despite similarities, the development and characteristics of urban street gangs appears unlike Indian gangs. Most gangs in Indian Country are not motivated by economic enterprise to the same extent as urban street gangs, but can be as dangerous or more so as they undertake violent acts to acquire status within their ranks. Some of the Indian gang violence can be shocking:

In 1996, a man on the Laguna Pueblo was bludgeoned with a beer bottle, stabbed 72 times, then left with a ritualistic triangle carved on his side.

Also in 1996, on the Laguna Reservation, the nine police officers (who must patrol one-half million acres) were assaulted 34 times, often by juveniles.

In the Salt River Pima-Maricopa community in Arizona, the number of drive-by shootings rose from 1 in 1992 to 55 in 1994.

In October 1996, five members of the East Side Crips Rolling 30s were indicted under the RICO statute with predicates that included murder, arson, and witness intimidation. All, who were members of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Community in Arizona, were convicted on May 9, 1997.

Few detention facilities exist in Indian Country that are suitable for juveniles. In short, juvenile delinquents can be arrested, but the lack of detention facilities, probation officers, social services, and other needed programs perpetuates the problem. Not surprisingly, juvenile recidivism in Indian Country is very high. Those programs which are in place are often understaffed and lack adequate funding. As existing juvenile facilities are frequently at capacity, juvenile offenders are often kept overnight and then released to their parents. The Omaha Tribal Prosecutor in Nebraska reported that $30,000 was spent in 1996 housing juveniles at the Wayne, Nebraska, detention center; more than $180,000 has been spent housing juveniles during the first three quarters of FY 1997, which represents a 500% increase in costs.

Table of contents



Child abuse has no cultural or socioeconomic boundaries and permeates all societies. Despite the lack of accurate reporting, child abuse is undisputedly one of the most prevalent crimes in Indian Country. According to BIA figures from 1993 to 1995, child sexual abuse is among the top three crimes reported in Indian Country.(22) Indeed, in 1990, after hearings on hundreds of documented child sexual abuse cases at the Hopi, Navajo, and North Carolina Cherokee Indian Reservations, Congress enacted the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act.(23)

To improve our response to these crimes, federal agencies have attempted to improve the protocols for crime reporting, victim services, background checks, and training. For example, within the Navajo Nation, FBI and the Navajo Division of Public Safety have implemented a Safe Trails Task Force. The New Mexico Safe Trails Task Force has five agents and three criminal investigators from the Navajo Division of Public Safety. Eighty percent of the task force's caseload involves the sexual or physical abuse of children. The caseload is so high that the FBI investigates only sexual abuse involving children under the age of 12. Even so, as of October 1997 the Phoenix Division Task Force reported 127 open child sexual abuse cases, in addition to 83 homicide cases. Other felony sexual abuse matters are referred to the Tribe for investigation and subsequent referral to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Other efforts include memoranda of agreements between federal, state and tribal authorities to streamline the reporting and investigation of child abuse. Since 1995, pursuant to a formal agreement between FBI and OLES, fingerprint checks have been conducted on tribal employees whose duties and responsibilities allow them regular contact with or control over Indian children.

An inherent difficulty in child sexual abuse investigations is the lack of physical evidence. In one study, experts found that in more than 85 percent of all child sexual abuse cases there was no physical evidence of abuse. Defense attorneys frequently attack interviews of children as suggestive, and investigations are often criticized as inadequate.

Despite attempts to quell child abuse through increased training, multidisciplinary approaches, and prosecution, child abuse continues to threaten Indian Country's most precious resource. Under-reporting continues to mask the toll that child abuse continues to take in Indian Country. Children are reluctant to disclose sexual abuse because of fear and retaliation. Particularized training is necessary to recognize signs and symptoms consistent with child abuse. Support systems must be in place for those victims and their families who come forward. For example, in a recent case, a child victim and her family were forced out of their community and had to live in a hotel for over nine months while they awaited trial of the defendant, a prominent tribal leader.

Like child abuse cases nationwide, most child abuse cases in Indian Country involve a family member, acquaintance, or other authority figure. Recently, a jailer was convicted of sexually molesting a 14-year-old inmate. Now, at an increasingly disturbing rate, more juveniles are committing sexual crimes against children.(24) One of the most egregious pedophile cases in history involved a non-Indian school teacher employed by BIA boarding schools. Non-Indians pose unique problems for Indian communities because tribal law enforcement has no criminal jurisdiction over them.

Treatment for both victims and offenders, especially juveniles, are limited. Facilities available through BOP contractors, Federal Probation, and the Tribes, cannot accommodate the disturbing increase in these cases. Given that child abuse occurs at an alarming rate, the issue for the federal government, in meeting its trust responsibility to Indian people, is to ensure that the needed prevention and intervention capabilities increase accordingly.

Table of contents



Alcohol remains the most pervasive substance abuse problem in Indian Country. Its destructive effects range from homicides to fetal alcohol syndrome. Although data are incomplete, there is broad consensus among Indian Country law enforcement personnel that the vast majority of violent assaults on children, spouses, and others involve excessive alcohol consumption.

Substance abuse, and our lack of an effective response, directly contribute to rising violence on Indian lands in America. Compounding the problems related to alcohol abuse is the growing use of illicit drugs, especially marijuana and methamphetamine, primarily among young people. The drug problem is spreading -- it is no longer confined to a few reservations near urban areas. Informal surveys of law enforcement officers and prosecutors indicate that a significant percentage of thefts and violent crimes in Indian Country are related to drug or alcohol abuse.

Federal investigators agree that marijuana and methamphetamine are the illicit drugs of choice in Indian Country. Marijuana is often cultivated in remote areas of Indian Country, for later distribution both on and off Indian lands.(25) In addition, the BIA reports an alarming trend of methamphetamine manufacture and consumption on Indian lands. In 1996 alone, BIA seized two clandestine methamphetamine labs, including 12 gallons of methamphetamine oil.

Indian Tribes face unique impediments to effective drug enforcement in that Tribes have no jurisdiction to prosecute non-Indians who commit crimes on Indian lands. As a result, only state and federal courts have jurisdiction to prosecute non-Indians who sell illicit substances on the reservation. However, because the quantities are usually below minimum thresholds for federal prosecution, and because state courts are not often receptive to such prosecutions for a variety of reasons, many non-Indian traffickers operate with impunity.

Tribal justice systems often lack the resources to deal with these cases effectively. The tribal obstacles are twofold: statutory and financial. First, the Indian Civil Rights Act limits tribal criminal sentences to no more than one year in custody and a $5,000 fine, regardless of the crime. This maximum sentence has little deterrent value.

Second, and more importantly, only a small percentage of the 558 federally-recognized Tribes have the resources actually to incarcerate convicted offenders because few Tribes have access to affordable detention facilities.

Tribal judges can adjudicate offenders, but lack viable options because of inadequate detention facilities, intermediate sanctions, and substance abuse treatment programs. Many drug offenders are put on tribal probation, yet there are not enough probation officers to handle the growing caseloads.

Federal prosecution is also problematic. Local drug organizations are aware that most U.S. Attorneys' offices simply do not have the resources to handle large numbers of small marijuana or methamphetamine cases. In addition, some federal judges perceive that such cases are inappropriate for adjudication in federal courts. Unfortunately, the reality is that drug trafficking activities on a reservation may have a disproportionate impact in relation to the size of the community and the quantity of drugs being distributed. A trafficker whose weekly supply is a couple of pounds of marijuana and some "crank" (methamphetamine) can create significant problems in a small rural community where jobs and constructive activities are scarce.

Without the range of prevention, intervention, and enforcement tools that are common in non-Indian communities, Indians must rely more on federal drug enforcement. One positive development is that more U.S. Attorneys who have Indian lands within their districts are more sensitive to the special drug enforcement needs of Indian Tribes. Where possible, minimum drug thresholds are relaxed for Indian Country cases. Thus, Indian Country U.S. Attorneys have made an effort to target the worst offenders on reservations and file federal cases that can make an impact beyond the immediate effects on the individual defendants.(26)

Table of contents



Detention operations in most Indian Country jails fall far short of basic professional and BIA detention standards. This results from a chronic shortage of operating funds, training, and technical assistance. Operations are substandard in such critical areas as staff and inmate safety; inmate supervision and management; inmate services and programs; fire safety; hazardous substance control; sanitation and pest control; and preventive maintenance. The design of many of these old jails presents diverse health hazards, including an inability to isolate inmates with communicable diseases such as tuberculosis. Most jails do not have written operations policies and procedures, nor do they have adequate systems of documenting operations.

On average, about 80% of a jail's operating budget is dedicated to staffing, but most Indian Country jails have insufficient staff to perform all security, custody, and ancillary functions inherent to jail operations. If staff cannot supervise inmates, they also cannot prevent escapes, suicides, assaults, and vandalism. Moreover, of all law enforcement personnel in Indian Country, detention officers receive the lowest pay and the fewest career opportunities, conditions which contribute to extreme staff "burnout" and high turnover. Detention staff also suffer from inadequate training because staffing levels are low and people cannot be spared to attend training, and because training costs are relatively high. There is a pervasive lack of funding, equipment, and supplies for such areas as security, safety, sanitation and hygiene, inmate services and programs, record keeping, and jail administration. Finally, little technical assistance has been available to Indian Country jails from the federal government.(27)

Deficient jail operations are accompanied by completely antiquated and inadequate jail structures, which contribute to high suicide rates.(28) Most Indian Country jails were designed without consideration for their population: facilities usually were built with a high-security design, while the population typically consists of misdemeanants who are usually cooperative when sober. Most inmates in Indian Country jails are sentenced for misdemeanor offenses, usually related to alcohol-abuse. Although inmates can be sentenced for up to one year for a tribal offense (and longer for multiple counts), most serve less than one year. A minority of inmates are felony offenders who are held until they are transferred to federal facilities.

Most Indian Country jails are in such poor condition that they are out of compliance with building codes as well as professional and BIA jail standards.(29) As part of its technical assistance program, NIC has conducted reviews of some Indian Country jails and cited serious physical plant deficiencies in terms of safety, security, and conditions of confinement. Although tribal judges have been commended for innovative sentencing to community service and their use of alternative sanctions, many Indian Country jails are extremely crowded, especially on weekends and during tribal celebrations, and bed space is scarce. Even worse off are Tribes which lack facilities altogether and must transport prisoners to other locations.

This broad array of detention problems is a direct result of inadequate funding. In the critical area of construction, for example, no new construction funds were appropriated for fiscal years 1996 and 1997. In the past nine years, the BIA has been able to construct only five jails and provide limited repairs to others.

Table of contents



Presently, most uniformed police officers attend the BIA Indian Police Academy (IPA) at Artesia, New Mexico. It is a satellite facility of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, Georgia, operated by the Department of the Treasury. The basic police officer course is run three times a year for 16 weeks. Each session has 50 students, with 52 beds available at the IPA during any one time. A waiting period of one year currently exists to receive training at the IPA.

According to the IPA staff, the attrition rate of new officers is approximately 50 percent. In addition, of the officers who graduate, approximately 50 percent leave Indian Country law enforcement within two years.

No present federal law enforcement academy, including the Glynco facility, can train the number of officers projected for this initiative. Either creating a new training facility to replace the current IPA, or acquiring a second academy will be necessary. The need for a greater capacity reflects both the projected surge of new law enforcement officers and the high turnover rate among Indian Country police officers.

Any new facility should be accessible to land and air transportation. The facility could be associated with a university or tribal college that could be used as a resource and means for attendees to obtain college credits for courses received. Ideally, it should be large enough for a driving course and a firearms range. In addition, the new academy could be affiliated with a laboratory structure that can address the forensic needs of Indian Country.

Tribal police and detention officers are often sent to the training academies of various states. A component of any new training unit should be created to help certify that these officers meet federal standards. In addition, this group should work with the police officer standards training (POST) commission of each state so that training received by officers at the IPA is accepted by that state.

Table of contents



The Executive Committee has summarized below the concerns expressed by the Tribes during the recent consultation process. We have chosen to express those concerns as questions.


Q. Contracting/Compacting. If the functions are moved to DOJ, what would happen to self-determination and self-governance compacting?

A. If functions are transferred, DOJ will seek the necessary legislation to protect the rights of Tribes to contract or compact in much the same way as they now do under BIA. DOJ believes that this is a necessary prerequisite.

Q. Indian Preference. Given the restrictive Supreme Court interpretation of the Indian Preference clause, would DOJ need and seek statutory authorization for Indian hiring preference?

A. As a necessary part of legislation enabling the transfer, DOJ will seek such legislation.

Q. Scale of Possible Transfer. Could specific agencies or Tribes opt in or out of the transfer of certain functions to DOJ? Or will any transfer be nationwide?

A. Opting in or out would be organizationally unmanageable and would conflict directly with our overarching goal of reducing the fragmentation and diffusion of law enforcement services that now compromise their effective delivery.

Q. P.L. 280. Do these proposals envision any changes in 18 U.S.C. § 1162?

A. In order to stay focused on securing essential funds to improve law enforcement services through a more responsive organizational structure, we do not plan to ask for any changes in P.L. 280.

Q. Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction. Would centralization of law enforcement functions, especially in DOJ, further erode tribal criminal jurisdiction?

A. We do not believe that centralization of law enforcement functions, either in BIA or in DOJ, will erode tribal criminal jurisdiction. Our goals of strengthening both federal and tribal law enforcement at the same time are compatible. For example, tribal officers (whether provided directly or by contract) not only maintain order and enforce tribal codes, but also are the typical "first responders" to serious crimes that may fall under federal jurisdiction.

Q. Trust Responsibility. If there is a transfer, what happens to the trust responsibility that now rests with the BIA?

A. That trust responsibility binds the entire Executive Branch, not just BIA. Reflecting that trust responsibility, DOJ has written a Directive (June 1, 1995) that guides its work in Indian Country and will remain in force regardless of who the next Attorney General may be. At the same time, we recognize that there are always transitional issues associated with any government reorganization.

Q. Funding Formula. What funding formula will DOJ use to assign law enforcement personnel? Will the financial status or land area of Tribes be considered?

A. We have no firm answers to this at such an early stage. Violent crime rates, size, and population will be among the factors considered. However, the Justice Department has taken a position on "means testing." In a July 22, 1997 letter to Senator Stevens, DOJ "strongly opposed" the "means testing" provision in Section 118 of the Interior Appropriations Bill as "contrary to the United States' longstanding protection of tribal self-government and the Federal trust responsibility...."

Q. Funding. How much additional money is being requested by category (detention, investigators, etc.)? Does this amount change much depending on which agency is mandated to carry out these responsibilities?

A. See the section on Cost Estimates supra.

Q. Law Enforcement and TPA Accounts. If funds in the "638" law enforcement contracts are unused, will they revert to the TPA allocation system and be available for other non-law enforcement programs or will the funds simply be returned to the Treasury?

A. Each Tribe's current law enforcement TPA allocation will form the baseline for that Tribe's law enforcement budget. Additional funds, representing the 350% increase over five years proposed by the Executive Committee, will supplement this baseline amount. Also, we will recommend that the Administration seek "no year" funding authority for these funds so that they may be reserved for law enforcement purposes.

Q. Training. How will BIA or DOJ increase access to training for law enforcement officers?

A. There will be adequate funding to train all additional officers and investigators at a federal or appropriate state facility. (See Tab E.)

Q. Tribal Courts. Is DOJ considering a request for oversight of tribal court programs? What is planned to strengthen tribal courts?

A. No, that responsibility will remain with BIA. DOJ is requesting $10 million for FY 1999 and BIA is asking for

$11.1 million to aid tribal courts through a variety of programs, including drug courts, special grants, and technical assistance.

Q. Law Enforcement Responsiveness to Local Needs. If investigative and local police functions are centralized in DOJ, how will each Tribe be able to express their views on law enforcement problems and priorities? Will ICIS or OLES investigators investigate tribal crimes?

A. DOJ plans to create liaison positions to assure that community accessibility and tribal input on local law enforcement issues and priorities are maintained. Also, community policing will be emphasized. Federal investigators will continue to investigate serious crimes. Uniformed officers will continue to enforce tribal laws. Whether the subsequent case is presented in federal or tribal court is, and will continue to be, a prosecutorial decision.

Q. DOJ Cultural Sensitivity. If there is a transfer, how will DOJ compensate for its lack of demonstrated experience with Indian Country law enforcement issues?

A. Under Attorney General Reno's leadership, DOJ has worked hard to improve law enforcement in Indian Country. Assistant U.S. Attorneys have been designated as tribal liaison; the Office of Tribal Justice was created in 1995 to serve as liaison with tribal governments; the Criminal Division has developed a pilot program to improve coordination of Indian Country law enforcement matters; the FBI has established an Office of Indian Country Investigations and has dedicated increased manpower to fight violent crime; and the COPS Office as well as the Office of Justice Programs have substantially increased assistance to Indian Country. Finally, U.S. Attorneys have been prosecuting serious crimes in Indian Country since passage of the Major Crimes Act in 1885.

Q. Impact on BIA. Would a transfer of law enforcement functions to DOJ impair BIA's ability to fulfil their broad mandate as the focal point for government-to-government relations between the United States and Indian Tribes?

A. No. Currently, DOJ works closely with BIA in its central role in fulfilling the federal trust responsibility and will continue to do so regardless of whether BIA law enforcement functions are transferred to DOJ. BIA will remain the core Indian agency in the Executive Branch.

Q. Youth Crime and Treatment. Many Tribes are concerned that more must be done to help at-risk youth and to treat offenders, when appropriate, and reintegrate them into the Tribe. Does DOJ plan to help in this area?

A. Although not the focus of this initiative, DOJ is asking for $30 million in FY 1999 for drug testing and treatment, as well as prevention and intervention for Indian youth.

Selected Excerpts

Albert Hale, President, Navajo Nation: "...the threshold issue is expanding the ability to 638 contract over to the Department of Justice."

Gregg Bourland, Chairman, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe: "...these kids think that they're above the law. 'I'm sixteen years old. I'm above the law. I'm in a gang, but they're going to baby me around in tribal court.'"

Eddie Tullis, Chairman, Poarch Creek Band of Creek Indians:

"I am of the opinion that law enforcement is such a complicated issue that if you have the investigative services on one side and then you have the uniformed police officers in another, you're asking for some real conflicts to develop from an operational point of view."

Table of contents





Formal Responses Informal Responses Formal Responses Informal Responses

*Colorado River

*Navajo Nation

*Salt River


*White Mountain


Pascua Yaqui


*Tohono O'odham


*Poarch Creek


Cortina Rancheria


Meskwaki Tribe


Ute Mountain Ute


Leech Lake


Duck Valley






*Nez Perce


*Fort Peck

*Denotes contracting or compacting tribes for any and all law enforcement functions

(including 6 self-funded tribes)


Formal Responses Informal Responses Formal Responses Informal Responses

Caddo Tribe

Chickasaw Nation
*Choctaw Nation
*Kaw Tribe
Modoc Tribe
*Pawnee Tribe

Seminole Tribe


Upper Sioux


Pleasant Point


Inter-Tribal Council
Battle Mountain
Carson Colony
Dresslerville Colony
Elko Colony
*Goshute Paiute UT/NV
Moapa River
South Fork
Stewart Colony
Summit Lake
*Walker River
Wells River
Winnemucca Colony
Woodfords Colony
Yomba Colony
*Yerington Colony

Representing Council

*Ely Indian Colony
*Fallon Colony
Fort McDermitt
Lovelock Colony
*Pyramid Lake
*Reno-Sparks Colony
*Te-Moak W. Shoshone


Formal Responses Informal Responses Formal Responses Informal Responses





New Mexico

*Taos Pueblo

South Dakota

*Cheyenne River


Winnebago Tribe

*Omaha Tribe

North Dakota

Three Affiliate Trbe
Turtle Mountain
Spirit Lake Nation
Standing Rock Sioux


*Lower Elwha

New Mexico

*Acoma Pueblo
Cochiti Pueblo
*Isleta Pueblo
Jemez Pueblo
*Laguna Pueblo
Mescalero Apache
*San Juan Pueblo
*Sandia Pueblo
*Santa Ana Pueblo
Santo Domingo Pueblo
*Zia Pueblo
*Zuni Pueblo


*Absentee Shawnee




Miami Tribe

South Dakota

*Oglala Sioux


Formal Responses Informal Responses Formal Responses Informal Responses

*Burns Paiute
*Coquille Community
*Grand Ronde
*Warm Springs



South Carolina

Catawba Tribe


*Squaxin Island
*Upper Skagit
*Port Gamble



*Fort McDowell
*Fort Mohave
Gila River
Hualapai Tribe
Quechan Tribe
*San Carlos Apache
San Juan Southern Paiute
Tonto Apache


*Hoopa Valley
Pit River Tribe
Quartz Valley
Redding Rancheria
Tule River
Twenty-Nine Palms
Wiyot Tribe


*Southern Ute


*Seminole Tribes


*Coeur D'Alene
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes



*Prairie Band Potawatomi
*Sac and Fox


*Bay Mills Chippewa
*Grand Traverse
*Keweenaw Bay Indian Community
*Lac Vieux Desert
Little River Band
*Little Traverse Bay Bands
*Saginaw Chippewa Tribe
*Sault Ste. Marie


Bois Forte
Fond du Lac
Grand Portage
Lower Sioux
*Mille Lacs
Prairie Island Community
*Red Lake Band
White Earth


*Fort Belknap
Northern Cheyenne
*Rocky Boy
*Salish and Kootenai


*Las Vegas Colony

New Mexico

*Jicarilla Apache

Nambe Pueblo
*Picuris Pueblo
*Pojoaque Pueblo
San Ildefonso Pueblo
*Santa Clara Pueblo
*Tesuque Pueblo

New York
Cayuga Nation
Seneca Nation
*St. Regis Mohawk
Tuscarora Nation

North Carolina
*Eastern Cherokee


Alabama Quassarte Tribal Town
Chickasaw Nation
*Citizen Band Potawatomi
*Comanche Tribe


*Kickapoo Tribe
*Sac and Fox
Seneca-Cayuga Tribe
Thlopthlocco Tribal Town

South Dakota

*Crow Creek Sioux
Flandreau Santee Sioux
Lower Brule


*Tigua (Ysleta del Sur Pueblo)


Paiute Indian Tribe
Uintah and Ouray






Eastern Shoshone
Northern Arapaho

Table of contents





David Ogden (DOJ) and Anne Shields (DOI)


Kevin Di Gregory (DOJ)
*Hilda Manuel (BIA)

*Tom LeClaire (DOJ-OTJ)
*Ted Quasula (BIA-OLES)
*Derril Jordan (DOI-SW)
Tim Vollmann (DOI-HQ)
*Ron Allen (S'Klallam)
*Mary Thomas (Gila River)
*Phillip Martin (Choctaw)
*Bill Anoatubby (Chickasaw)
*W. Walksalong (Cheyenne)
*Roland Johnson (Laguna)
Janet Napolitano (USA)
John Kelly (USA)
S. Matteucci (USA-Alt)
Mike Roper (DOJ)
Steve Wiley (FBI)
Pat Sledge (BOP)





* Phil Baridon

Soo Song (OTJ-20%)
T. Toulou (MT AUSA-25%)
* K. Bliss (NM AUSA-25%)
S. Kimball (NM-AUSA-20%)
Mikki Atsatt (DOJ/BS-15%)
* Brent LeRocque (OLES-25%)
* Dave Nicholas (BIA-25%)
* Craig Jones (BIA-10%)
June Kress (COPS-50%)
Ginny Hutchinson(NIC-15%)
Joe Lodge (AZ AUSA-15%)
* Walt Lamar (OK FBI-20%)
Mark Donahue (FBI-HQ)
Beth Luedtke (DOJ-100%)




657-6989 x185
766-8517 x138
616-9612 x140

Enrolled tribal members.


1. This Committee includes tribal leaders and representatives from DOI and DOJ. See the full list at Tab H.

2. Of all issues discussed by the Executive Committee, tribal leaders held the strongest views on these two issues. The Tribes have made it very clear that assurances are mandatory that present contracting/compacting and Indian preference policies will continue.

3. The FBI, however, will continue to play an important role in Indian Country, and no proposal envisions any change in their statutory authority.

4. Today, federal law enforcement is the only protection for victims of violent felonies in most of Indian Country. The federal government has a basic responsibility to preserve public safety in all of Indian Country. In general, this responsibility derives from the unique trust relationship between federal and tribal governments, as well as specific statutory provisions such as those that mandate exclusive federal jurisdiction for "major crimes," including murder, rape, robbery, and child abuse. (See 18 U.S.C. § 1152-1153). Moreover, the 1994 Crime Act has expanded federal criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country in such areas as guns, violent juveniles, drugs, and domestic violence. In states covered under 18 U.S.C. § 1162 (P.L. 280), such as California and Alaska, baseline law enforcement services are provided by the state, and Indian Tribes have concurrent authority over crimes by Indians.

5. Homicide and Suicide Among Native Americans (1979-1992) at 17. A report by The Indian Health Service in cooperation with the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (1996).

6. Based on data from FBI Uniform Crime Reports and BIA Annual Law Enforcement Reports.

7. See, for example, the Report of the Task Force on Indian Matters, U.S. Department of Justice, October 1975.

8. This Committee includes tribal leaders and representatives from DOI and DOJ. See the full list at Tab H.

9. This figure does not include Alaska, which has a large indigenous population and 226 Tribes. However, only one small Tribe in Alaska (the Metlakatla) is under federal jurisdiction. Alaska does have tribal police and a serious crime problem. While Alaska Natives represent 16 percent of the state's population, they account for 34 percent of the prison population. According to Crime Reported in Alaska 1995 (Alaska Department of Public Safety), death rates for Alaska Native males from homicide and legal execution were 2.3 times those of white males.

10. Based on data from FBI Uniform Crime Reports and BIA Annual Law Enforcement Reports.

11. 11 Report No. 96-16, September 1996. For example, in 1996 only 32 percent of the Tribes submitted official crime reports to the BIA. Much information comes from informal surveys.

12. 12 According to the BIA Office of Law Enforcement Services, more than 100 positions were lost during the 1995 RIFs. This includes 30 criminal investigators, 55 police officers, 16 jailers, and other essential support personnel. These BIA funding cutbacks also cause parallel reductions in law enforcement services provided by the Tribes. Although those lost were permanent personnel, the three-year grants by the COPS Office have helped increase the uniformed police presence on some reservations.

13. 13 Using the 1990 census, the BIA reports that only 24 of the 558 federally-recognized Tribes numbered more than 10,000. Hence, this is the nearest possible comparison.

14. Although the FBI has assigned additional agents to help compensate for the loss of BIA criminal investigators, they normally work out of resident agencies or satellite offices that are not close to the Tribes they serve. For example, agents assigned to the FBI office in Gallup, N.M., report that it is not unusual to travel three to six hours for a single witness interview.

15. The Navajo Nation favors the BIA option but suggests "that OLES be elevated within (DOI) to a level equal with the several bureaus in (DOI), such as BIA, Bureau of Reclamation, Land Management, etc." In addition, the Navajo Nation believes that a DOJ office should be created to provide "a comprehensive interface between the DOI/BIA and ensure coordination of the full range of services needed to support an enhanced law enforcement system in Indian Country."

16. Once an option is selected, a performance plan that will establish goals and measures of results will be developed, as mandated under the Government Performance Results Act (GPRA).

17. This problem was highlighted in an Oversight Hearing before the Subcommittee on Native American Affairs on the Indian Law Enforcement Reform Act, March 18, 1994. H.R. Doc. No. 103-74, p.50.

18. This may include whether technical corrections are needed in the Indian Law Enforcement Reform Act of 1990. For example, one area of interest is Sec. 5, 25 U.S.C. § 2804, relating to cross-deputization agreements.

19. At 15%, the number of criminal investigators needed would be 644. However, this figure was reduced to 496 to take into account the 23% of tribal population that is covered by P.L. 280 and thus would not need additional federal criminal investigators. For example, approximately 100,000 Alaskan Natives would be eligible for additional police officers, but not a corresponding increase in criminal investigators, because the state is responsible for criminal investigations.

20. 20 Title I, § 102, 102 Stat.2285, as amended by P.L. 103-413, P.L. 103-435, and P.L. 103-437.

21. 21BIA Strategic Plan, August 1997.

22. For example, in the BIA Phoenix area, which includes Nevada, 131 sexual abuse offenses out of 413 total offenses were reported in calendar year 1995. This figure does not reflect all incidents, since fewer than half of the Tribes provided crime data during those years.

23. 23 Codified at 18 U.S.C. § 3201 et seq. Congress expressly found that throughout Indian Country there was gross under-reporting of child abuse, repeated incidents of child abuse perpetrated by federal employees, a complete failure by the federal government and Tribes to conduct criminal background checks for child care providers and teachers, and de minimis funding of counseling and other victim services.

24. Examples include a 16-year-old step brother who sneaked into his seven-year-old step sister's bedroom each night to fondle her under her pajamas; two cousins, one 14, the other 16, who sodomized two neighborhood children because "they thought it would be fun;" a 14-year-old boy who, left to babysit an eight-year-old girl and her six-year-old brother, threw the girl down to the floor and raped her; and two 16-year-old brothers who raped girls in the community and then tattooed them. Other tragic examples of child abuse abound.

25. In 1995, BIA seized 13,793 cultivated marijuana plants from many Indian reservations throughout the United States. Almost as many (11,884) were seized in 1996.

26. For example, the U.S. Attorney's office in the Eastern District of Wisconsin recently coordinated an extensive investigation of a drug trafficking organization on the Menominee reservation. The investigation included the first Title III wiretap on an Indian reservation, culminating in two multi-count indictments charging 27 people with various federal narcotics offenses, including ten who are subject to five-year mandatory minimum penalties. Similarly, on September 4, 1997, 22 individuals were arrested on federal drug trafficking charges resulting from a seven-month, joint-agency undercover investigation on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The marijuana purchased in that investigation will expose some defendants to five-year minimum sentences. Other U.S. Attorneys' offices, especially in the Southwest, are also making an effort to coordinate investigations, search warrants, and federal indictments directed at drug traffickers on Indian reservations.

27. The BIA has only one detention specialist position, which has proven inadequate to provide the level of service needed to help jail staff effectively manage and operate their facilities. Additional technical assistance has been provided through the Justice Department's National Institute of Corrections (NIC). NIC, however, has a very limited budget which must provide technical assistance and training to prisons, jails, probation, parole, and community corrections facilities nationwide. Services to Indian Country jails constitute only a small percentage of NIC's yearly assistance.

28. Most Indian Country jails are of a linear design, meaning cells are arranged in a row and sit at right angles to a corridor. Bars or security doors separate the cells from the corridor. Staff observe the inmates in their cells by "patrolling" the corridor at irregular intervals. This design has proven to be a hindrance to even the most basic of jail operations, including inmate observation, supervision, and management. Under ideal conditions staff would patrol the corridor at least every 30 minutes. Staffing levels often result in patrol intervals that are much longer.

29. In 1995, the BIA contracted with a consultant to conduct needs assessments on 34 BIA-owned facilities. The firm concluded that many facilities are beyond repair and should be replaced. The BIA's Division of Safety Management, the Indian Health Service, and some tribal courts have recommended or ordered that facilities be repaired or closed. Very recently, the Federal Court, District of Colorado, ordered the BIA to make major repairs to the BIA jail on the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation.

Back to OTJ Home Page

Updated page 04/09/98

Updated June 23, 2014

Was this page helpful?

Was this page helpful?
Yes No