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Indian Country

The Qualla Boundary, home to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, is located within the Western District of North Carolina. The primary section of the Qualla Boundary spans Swain and Jackson Counties, with smaller out-parcels found in Cherokee, Graham, and Haywood Counties. At its center is the town of Cherokee, which is approximately one hour west of the City of Asheville. 

The Eastern Band of Cherokee is the largest federally recognized Indian tribe east of the Mississippi River, currently consisting of over 13,000 enrolled members. The Cherokee Nation once resided in an area spanning eight southern states. The Eastern Band members primarily consist of descendants of Cherokee who resisted or escaped the Trail of Tears, the forcible relocation of several eastern tribes to Indian territory (now Oklahoma) during the 1830's. Today the Eastern Band is one of three federally recognized Cherokee tribes, the other two being the Cherokee Nation and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians (both in Oklahoma).

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina derives its criminal jurisdiction over cases originating from the Qualla Boundary from Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1152 and 1153. This jurisdiction is often (but not always) concurrent with the Cherokee Tribal Court and the state courts of North Carolina.

John Pritchard, Tribal Liaison

AUSA Pritchard serves as the Tribal Liaison for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina. As Tribal Liaison, he prosecutes all federal crimes arising from the Qualla Boundary and consults and coordinates with tribal justice officials, victim advocates, and law enforcement to address any issues involving the prosecution of criminal cases in Indian country. In that role he has prosecuted all manner of violent crimes, including murder, aggravated assault, and sex crimes.

AUSA Pritchard joined the United States Attorney’s Office in 2011 and has served as Tribal Liaison since 2015. He previously served the public as an Assistant District Attorney, most recently in Buncombe County from 2006 to 2011. He received his Juris Doctor degree from Wake Forest University School of Law in 2000, and his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina in 1997.



Updated March 22, 2021