Pub. date: 2004 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952415 | Print ISBN: 9780761926498 | Online ISBN: 9781412952415| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Dorothy H. Bracey
Responsibility for policing Indian country has belonged to the federal government since the early 1800s. The agency carrying out that responsibility is the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Law Enforcement Services, located in the Department of the Interior, with officers who are federally trained and certified. In some circumstances, however, either state or tribal authorities police Indian lands. Regardless of who does the actual policing, questions of jurisdiction bedevil law enforcement in Indian country. Congressional actions and Supreme Court decisions made over many years have created complex arrangements that tend to expand federal power and diminish Native American sovereignty. The first of these is the Major Crimes Act (1885), which, with supporting legislation, gives federal authorities jurisdiction over almost all felonies. This means that the small number of FBI agents near Indian lands have investigatory responsibility for all major crimes. Also, tribes have no jurisdiction over crimes outside of Indian ...