Tribal Justice and Safety

Tribal Justice and Safety

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

Consultation on Violence against Women and Girls in Indian Country

On June 29, 2016, President Obama traveled to Ottawa for the North American Leaders’ Summit (NALS) to meet with the President of Mexico and the Canadian Prime Minister to discuss a variety of topics impacting our shared borders. Among the many commitments announced at the NALS was a tri-lateral commitment to address the high levels of violence against indigenous women and girls that exist across North America. All three countries agreed that the high levels of violence endured by indigenous women and girls across the region warrants increased attention and coordination, resulting in the formation of the new North American Working Group on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls (the Working Group). The Working Group will meet for the first time in October in Washington, D.C. when government officials from Mexico and Canada will join the U.S. government to exchange knowledge, share best practices, and improve cross-border coordination in preventing and responding to violence against indigenous women and girls.

In preparation for the launch of this Working Group, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) invites you to provide input on key considerations regarding violence against Alaska Native and American Indian women and girls relevant to the objectives of the Working Group. To that end, DOJ’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) is hosting listening sessions with officials of federally recognized Indian tribes to discuss challenges presented by the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders in preventing and responding to this violence.

More information on the schedule and topics for discussion

Consultation on Public Safety in Alaska

As originally announced on July 8, 2016, pursuant to the Attorney General’s visit to Alaska on June 10, 2016, and in accordance with Executive Order 13175 and the Department of Justice's Consultation Policy, the Department of Justice will consult with tribal leaders to establish a concrete plan to better address the unique public safety concerns in Alaska Native communities. Alaska presents a law enforcement challenge different from any other place in America. However, the United States, and the Department of Justice, have a trust responsibility to Alaska Native villagers, just as we have to American Indians in the lower 48 states. The Department of Justice is committed to establishing a clear path to more effectively address public safety concerns.

More information on the schedule and topics for discussion

Consultation on Distribution of Volkswagen Settlement Trust

As initially announced on July 8, 2016, the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency will consult with tribal leaders on the process for distribution of the Tribal Allocation Subaccount of the Environmental Mitigation Trust to be established under a partial settlement of In re Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation.  Under the partial settlement of EPA’s Clean Air Act claims in In re Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, Case No. 15-md-2672 CRB (JSC) (N.D. Cal.), the Settling Defendants are required to establish an Environmental Mitigation Trust (Trust) to fund specific actions to mitigate excess emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from the cars subject to the lawsuit by reducing NOx emissions from other sources (Eligible Mitigation Actions). Consultations will be held on August 8, 10, and 15, 2016.

Read more details on the settlement and the consultations

U.S. to Accept Concurrent Jurisdiction Over Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Reservation In Minnesota

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

On January 12, 2016, the Department of Justice 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. 

Read the Press Release

Tribal Access Program (TAP) for National Crime Information

The Department of Justice  announces an initial phase of the Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information (TAP) to provide federally-recognized tribes access to national crime information databases for both civil and criminal purposes. TAP will allow tribes to more effectively serve and protect their communities by ensuring the exchange of critical data.


The Bureau of Justice Assistance, in partnership with the American Probation and Parole Association, the National Tribal Judicial Center, and the Tribal Judicial Institute, announces the release of “Enhanced Sentencing in Tribal Courts: Lessons Learned From Tribes.” This publication provides a brief overview, not a comprehensive review, of the changes under the Tribal Law & Order Act (TLOA) of 2010 (Public Law 111–211, H.R. 725, 124 Stat. 2258, enacted July 29, 2010) regarding enhanced sentencing authority, offers considerations for correctional/detention and community corrections programming related to enhanced sentences, and provides tribes with a checklist to help guide discussions around implementation of enhanced sentencing authority. Additionally, this publication explores the adoption of TLOA’s enhanced sentencing authority through interviews with several tribal court judges and personnel who have been intricately involved in establishing the provisions required to convey enhanced sentences. Finally, this publication provides information on financial resources to fund enhanced sentencing authority implementation.

DOJ Statement of Principles

On December 3, 2014, at the White House Tribal Nations Conference, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice has adopted a Statement of Principles to guide and inform all of the Department's interactions with federally recognized Indian tribes.  Developed in consultation with the leaders of all 566 tribes, this Statement of Principles will memorialize the Department's determination to serve as a partner in fighting crime and enforcing the law in Indian country.  As Attorney General Holder said in his remarks to tribal leaders, the Statement of Principles, “was meant to codify our intention to serve not as a patron, but as a partner, in Indian country – and to institutionalize our efforts to reinforce relationships, reform the criminal justice system, and aggressively protect civil rights and treaty rights.  And it will serve as a guide for this Administration – and every Administration – as we seek to build the more perfect Union, and the more just society, that every individual deserves."

Read the Statement of Principles

Policy Statement Regarding Marijuana Issues in Indian Country

On October 28, 2014, the Department of Justice issued a Policy Statement Regarding Marijuana Issues in Indian Country, to all United States Attorneys.  With a number of states legalizing marijuana for use and production, some tribes have requested guidance on the enforcement of the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) on tribal lands by the United States Attorneys’ offices.  With these requests in mind, the Attorney General’s Native American Issues Subcommittee has reviewed the Memorandum from the Deputy Attorney General, dated August 29, 2013, regarding marijuana enforcement (“Cole Memorandum”) and considered its impact on Indian Country.  Indian Country includes numerous reservations and tribal lands with diverse sovereign governments, many of which traverse state borders and federal districts.  Given this, the United States Attorneys recognize that effective federal law enforcement in Indian Country, including marijuana enforcement, requires consultation with our tribal partners in the districts and flexibility to confront the particular, yet sometimes divergent, public safety issues that can exist on any single reservation.

Read the Policy Statement 

Frequently Asked Questions


Indian Country Accomplishments of the Justice Department, 2009-Present

In June 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder launched a Department-wide initiative to enhance public safety in Indian County. Significant progress has been made since then. This document offers highlights of the Department's progress in the following areas: enhanced prosecution and training efforts; implementation of the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 (TLOA); grant opportunities; general litigation; civil rights; and outreach and consultation.

Read More


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