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Changing Federal Role in Indian Country - April 2001


									                       Photo source: Kenny Blackbird
The Changing
 Federal Role
    in Indian
         by Kim Baca
                                               about the author
             efore contact with Euro-

    B        peans, Native American
             communities were largely
    governed by strong, traditional
                                               Kim Baca is a reporter for a news wire service and a former researcher and policy analyst
                                               with the Office of Indian Affairs for the State of New Mexico. She is Navajo and Santa Clara
                                               Pueblo and can be reached at 803–748–7342 or

    social structures.
                                            acres of tribal lands in the lower 48       For example, Laguna Pueblo, which
    “In ancestral times, people were        States lags far behind the per capita       consists of six villages, created a
    limited to certain behaviors and        officer ratio in non-Indian commu-          project to assign nonviolent offend-
    all those unwritten rules were well     nities.                                     ers to work on various projects with
    enforced,” explained Hayes A. Lewis,                                                leaders within their villages.
    a Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico, tribal       The public safety crisis in Indian
    member who works with anti-             Country has prompted the Federal            Another program, the Mayordomo
    substance abuse and antiviolence        Government to rethink its approach          Project, emphasized collaboration
    programs on the reservation.            to crime and justice on Indian              between the traditional justice prac-
                                            lands.                                      tices and the contemporary judicial
    “Back then, you didn’t want to                                                      system. Through the project, which
    embarrass your family or yourself.                                                  derives its name from the Spanish
    Our parents used to tell us, ‘If you    Rethinking Ways to                          word for elder, the villages elected
    bring any shame to you, you’re just     Support Traditional                         mayordomos—village elders and
    not shaming yourself, you are sham-     Customs                                     spiritual leaders—to handle some
    ing your family,’” he added.                                                        disputes, encourage traditional
                                            The Department of Justice launched
    The waning of traditional Indian                                                    approaches, and oversee the care
                                            the Indian Country Justice Initiative
    culture and social controls and the                                                 of the land, including the mending
                                            (ICJI) in 1995 to streamline the
    introduction and dominance of                                                       of fences and maintenance of roads
                                            Justice Department’s support for
    Western culture have contributed                                                    and ditches.
                                            Indian Country. Two tribes were
    to a public safety crisis in Indian     invited to participate in the pilot         The project also fostered mentoring
    Country today.                          effort—the Laguna Pueblo in New             between elders and youth to help
                                            Mexico and the Northern Cheyenne            young people rediscover their com-
    While Americans elsewhere are
                                            tribe in Montana.                           munity’s traditional and cultural
    enjoying decreasing crime rates,
    self-reported data from crime vic-                                                  social order.
                                            According to Carol Lujan, the for-
    tims indicate that the 1.4 million      mer director of American Indian             The programs have been successful
    American Indians living in the U.S.     Studies at Arizona State University         overall, but there is always room
    are victims of violent crime at more    who evaluated the initiative, the           for improvement. Even though
    than twice the rate of all U.S. resi-   program “advocated innovative               American Indians had more say
    dents.1 At the same time, the num-      approaches to justice that provided         on how to tailor projects to their
    ber of law enforcement officers who     for strengthening traditional mecha-        specific needs, they expressed
    patrol the more than 56 million         nisms of social control.”2                  concerns about lack of under-
                                                                                        standing on the part of the
                                                                                        Federal Government. Federal
                                                                                        officials had similar complaints.
                                                                                        Both sides, however, said the
  “In ancestral times, people were limited to                                           initiative expressed a new way to
                                                                                        acknowledge the sovereign status
                                                                                        of tribes.
 certain behaviors and all those unwritten rules
were well enforced,” explained Hayes A. Lewis,                                          Finding a New Way
                                                                                        Through Interagency
a Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico, tribal member who                                            Collaboration
                                                                                        To continue to improve the relation-
works with antisubstance abuse and antiviolence                                         ship between the Federal Govern-
                                                                                        ment and tribal Nations, the
             programs on the reservation.                                               Departments of Justice and Interior

                                                                                            National Institute of Justice Journal s April 2001
               The CIRCLE Project
                In 1997, the Northern Cheyenne            Perhaps most importantly, it           s   The Office of the Comptroller
                tribe noticed a rash of burglaries        focuses on the development and             within the Office of Justice
                in its isolated community near            implementation of a comprehen-             Programs is providing assis-
                Billings, Montana. It wasn’t non-         sive strategic plan as well as             tance in supporting financial
                tribal members committing the             streamlines DOJ resources so               enhancement activities.
                crimes. It was Native community           that tribes can apply for grants       Northern Cheyenne, Pueblo of
                children hooked on methampheta-           through a single application.          Zuni, and Oglala Sioux are the
                mine. The tribe also was seeing                                                  three Indian communities that
                                                          CIRCLE’s guiding principles are
                more violent activity.                                                           are pilot grantees.
                                                          based on an understanding that:
                “We had a youth murdered and              (1) the most effective solutions to    Northern Cheyenne, which began
                stabbed 60 to 80 times,” recalled         the problems faced by tribal com-      receiving Federal funds in 1995 as
                Kim Dahle, Northern Cheyenne              munities are likely to come from       part of the Indian Country Justice
                tribal member and coordinator             within the communities them-           Law Enforcement Initiative, has
                of the tribe’s Community Justice          selves, rather than being imposed      seen significant changes in the
                Program, “and we didn’t have              by the Federal Government, and         community. Dahle said the tribe’s
                full law enforcement.”                    (2) the problems to be addressed       first juvenile probation officer was
                                                          require a comprehensive approach       hired, more cops were hired,
                Tribal officials, concerned about
                                                          that incorporates coordinated and      and more youth programs were
                safety in their community, applied
                                                          multidisciplinary efforts.             established at the Boys and Girls
                for the first collaborative grants
                                                                                                 Club. The tribe also has tried to
                available under the 1995 Indian           DOJ’s funding partners and their
                                                                                                 integrate traditional activities as
                Country Justice Law Enforcement           commitments are as follows:
                                                                                                 an alternative to drugs with the
                Initiative. This initiative, created by
                                                          s   The Office of Community            creation of a youth drum group.
                the U.S. Department of Justice,               Oriented Policing Services
                was a comprehensive and innova-               (COPS) is providing fully          “We knew what the issues were,
                tive program to improve criminal              trained and equipped officers.     and we had tried to work on them
                justice and strengthen the working                                               for years. And then the opportunity
                                                          s   The Corrections Program Office
                relationship between tribes and the           is supporting construction of      came up to strengthen our pro-
                Federal Government.                           detention facilities.              grams,” Dahle said. “It’s been
                                                                                                 a lot of work, but we’ve been
                The program’s biggest advantage           s   The Bureau of Justice Assis-
                                                              tance is combining technical       successful. We’ve been able
                was that it focused on the rising
                                                              assistance and funding for         to put a lot more resources into
                crime rates in Indian Country
                                                              enhancement of tribal courts.      the community.”
                through a multiagency strategy
                involving many DOJ offices and            s   The Office of Juvenile Justice     At Pine Ridge, South Dakota,
                programs committed to reducing                and Delinquency Prevention is      the Oglala Sioux tribe has seen
                                                              funding activities to enhance      a reduction in gang activity and
                child abuse and substance abuse
                                                              the tribal juvenile justice sys-
                and improving law enforcement.                                                   domestic violence since the
                                                              tem and address gangs and
                These efforts evolved into the                                                   CIRCLE project was initiated,
                                                              substance abuse.
                Comprehensive Indian Resources                                                   according to Bart Mardanian,
                                                          s   The Office for Victims of Crime
                for Community and Law Enforce-                                                   former Oglala CIRCLE program
                                                              is funding activities related to
                ment (CIRCLE) project.                                                           coordinator. Prior to the CIRCLE
                                                              child abuse.
                                                                                                 funding, there were few repercus-
                The CIRCLE project is a 3-year            s   The Violence Against Women
                                                                                                 sions for either juvenile delin-
                Federal effort that seeks to find             Office is supporting activities
                                                                                                 quents or domestic violence
                effective ways to address public              to address violence against
                                                              native women. (See “Protecting     offenders. Courts were under-
                safety in Indian Country. The pro-
                                                              Indian Women From Domestic         staffed and manually operated.
                ject promotes the exchange of
                                                              Violence” by Eileen Luna,          Only 40 officers patrolled
                ideas and experiences and fosters
                                                              NIJ Journal, January 2001,         the reservation’s 54 small
                coordination among the tribes for
                                                              page 28.)                          communities.
                more efficient use of resources.

     The Changing Federal Role in Indian Country
    But Mardanian said many of the             Mardanian said gang activity has             The evaluation will focus on the
    problems have decreased since              risen over the last 6 years with             development, implementation, and
    1999, when the first round of              the influence of television on               outcomes of CIRCLE.
    funding was received. He says the          reservation youth trying to
                                                                                            An evaluation team member
    tribe also has returned to its roots       mimic urban life.
                                                                                            affiliated with a local college will
    in trying to rehabilitate offenders
                                               “We are caught up in a quandary              be available at each site for the
    through the Court-Appointed
                                               of who we are as a people—                   duration of the evaluation to pro-
    Special Advocate (CASA) program.
                                               whether we should go back to                 vide feedback to both the sites and
    “There is a resurgence of people           the old ways or adopt new ways.              the CIRCLE project’s evaluation
    across the reservation to get back         We’re going to have to find an               subcommittees. Project sites will
    to the traditional way of life,” he        equilibrium,” he said.                       be asked to comment on how this
    said. “Many times, the children            NIJ is now evaluating CIRCLE                 participatory evaluation should be
    who are facing challenges are              through a grant to the Project               put into operation for the project
    encouraged to attend various reli-         on American Indian Economic                  as a whole.
    gious ceremonies to help them              Development at Harvard University.
    cope with their problems.”

joined tribal leaders in forming            Table 1: Congressional Appropriations
an executive committee to more
thoroughly analyze crime and                Indian Country Law Enforcement Improvements Initiative
justice problems on tribal lands.
                                                                                    Fiscal Year         Fiscal Year            Fiscal Year
The committee’s key findings                                                           1999                2000                   2001
                                            Tribal correctional                    $34 million          $34 million        $34 million
s   Serious and violent crime, such         facilities
    as child sexual and physical            COPS Tribal Resources                  $40 million          $40 million        $40 million
    abuse, was rising significantly         Grant Program
    in Indian Country, in sharp             Tribal courts                          $5 million           $5 million         $8 million
    contrast to national trends.
                                            Tribal youth                           $10 million          $12.5 million      $12.5 million
s   Law enforcement in Indian               FBI                                    50 positions
    Country often failed to meet                                                   (30 agents and
    basic public safety needs.                                                     20 support staff)
s   The single most glaring pro-            U.S. Attorneys                                                                 $5 million for 60
    blem was the lack of adequate                                                                                          positions, including
                                                                                                                           33 attorneys
                                            Bureau of Justice Statistics                                                   $2 million
Following up on the executive               (tribal criminal justice statistics)
committee recommendations, the
                                            Alcohol and crime                                                              $5 million
Attorney General and Secretary              demonstration grants
of the Interior recommended that
spending be increased to address
the public safety crisis by providing      ment (CIRCLE) project. (See                     s     Tribal correctional facilities
resources for tribal justice systems.      “The CIRCLE Project.”)                                ($34 million).
The DOI-DOJ collaboration became
known as the Indian Country                In fiscal year 1999, Congress appro-            s     Juvenile justice programs
Law Enforcement Improvements               priated and DOJ dispersed $89 mil-                    ($10 million).
Initiative.                                lion in grants to more than 120                 s     Tribal courts ($5 million).
                                           tribes throughout Alaska and the
Another collaborative funding              lower 48 States for the following               Other programs and offices
initiative involving a number of           activities:                                     within DOJ were awarded grants
DOJ offices became known as the                                                            to improve victim services for
Comprehensive Indian Resources             s    Police staffing, training, and             women and children and to
for Community and Law Enforce-                  equipment ($40 million).                   establish tribal drug courts.4

                                                                                                National Institute of Justice Journal s April 2001
               Tribal Sovereignty and the Department of Justice
               In 1994, an executive memoran-          consult with all Indian tribal          issue, as many American Indians
               dum was issued on government-           governments before taking               relayed.
               to-government relations with            actions that would affect those
                                                                                               "It's been hard sometimes to
               Native American tribes. The mem-        tribes. DOJ, like some other
                                                                                               make them realize that we are
               orandum reaffirmed the Federal          Federal agencies, took the
                                                                                               a sovereign nation and that we
               Government's unique legal rela-         directive a step further and
                                                                                               are capable of running our own
               tionship with tribes under treaties     committed itself to assisting
                                                                                               successful programs," said
               signed more than 100 years ago.         Indian tribal governments in
                                                                                               Kim Dahle, Community Justice
                                                       strengthening their justice
               The United States recognizes the                                                Program coordinator for the
               sovereign status of Indian tribes                                               Northern Cheyenne tribe in
               as "domestic dependent nations,"        After the executive memorandum          Montana. She said one of the
               based on Cherokee Nation v.             was issued, Federal officials           main problems is that Federal
               Georgia, 30 U.S. (5 Pet.) 1, 17         sponsored a historic Listening          officials don't know the culture
               (1831). Also, in early treaties, the    Conference in New Mexico in             or justice issues on the more
               United States pledged to "protect"      1994, where tribal leaders              than 500 sovereign nations in
               and ensure the "welfare" of Indian      expressed their concerns about          the United States. Federal officials
               tribes, therefore establishing one      safety on the reservation while         said they have heard these com-
               of the bases for the Federal trust      reaffirming the importance              plaints and are trying to learn.
               responsibility.                         of sovereignty between the U.S.         They want to give American
                                                       Government and Indian nations.          Indian communities the tools
               Based on this early case law,
                                                                                               and resources they need to
               all branches of the Federal             Acknowledgment of sovereignty,
                                                                                               improve safety and justice.
               Government were directed to             however, isn't an easily understood

           While an important aspect of               Collaborative Funding                    the way it awards CIRCLE grants,
           the Department’s efforts has               Maximizes Resources                      some Indian program administra-
           been the combined funding                                                           tors say some Federal employees still
           of Federal agencies to support             The collaborative Federal funding        have no understanding of American
           tribes, the most significant               from DOJ offices and the stream-         Indian culture. Indian program
           component is the Initiative’s              lined grant-making process will          administrators also complain of
           encouragement of a government-             help tribes pull together resources to   high turnover among Federal pro-
           to-government relationship that            develop even better planning efforts     gram directors. However, Federal
           better appreciates tribal leaders’         and treatments for some of their         employees have the same complaint
           decisionmaking role.                       most ailing social problems.             about high turnover among tribal
                                                      For example, according to Hayes          administrators.
           “We were trying to avoid the
           mistakes of the past by saying,            Lewis, the Pueblo of Zuni substance      Other questions or concerns on the
           ‘This is the right way to do it,’”         abuse and antiviolence programs          part of some Federal personnel and
           said Philip Baridon, a senior              administrator, the Pueblo in north-      congressional lawmakers include the
                                                      eastern New Mexico used the fund-
           policy analyst in DOJ’s Criminal                                                    rising economic power of various
                                                      ing from several agencies to hire
           Division. “In a way, we are trying                                                  tribes as a result of casino gambling.
                                                      four more law enforcement officers,
           to conceptualize the government-                                                    Of the 561 federally recognized
                                                      buy equipment, provide training
           to-government relationship that                                                     tribes, 195 operate some type of
                                                      (especially in community policing),
           the law recognizes but hasn’t                                                       gambling operation, totaling 309
                                                      streamline the court system, and
           always practiced.” (See “Tribal                                                     gaming locations in 28 States. But
                                                      develop a youth leadership program.
           Sovereignty and the Department                                                      only about 5 percent make a sizable
           of Justice.”)                              But while the Department of Justice      income for the tribe’s operations,
                                                      is off to a good start by streamlining   according to the National Indian

     The Changing Federal Role in Indian Country
     Gaming Commission.5 Twenty-two
     tribal operations account for 56             For More Information
     percent of the revenue.
                                                  s   Visit the Office of Tribal Justice, U.S. Department of Justice, at
     “What we are looking to do is make           s   Attorney General Policy Directive, “Department of Justice Policy on Indian Sovereignty
     this initiative more than a tempo-               and Government-to-Government Relations With Indian Tribes,” Office of the Attorney
     rary fix,” said Todd Araujo, deputy              General, June 1, 1995. Available on the Web site of the U.S. Department of Justice,
     director of the Office of Tribal                 Office of Tribal Justice, November 24, 2000,
     Justice. “We are seeking permanent
                                                  s   Wakeling, Stewart, Miriam Jorgensen, and Susan Michaelson, “Policing on American
     funding to provide tribes a base
                                                      Indian Reservations,” NIJ Journal, January 2001: 2 (NCJ 186185).
     for infrastructure. For example,
     tribes that receive money from the
     COPS program will get funding
     for 3 years, after which the tribe         Notes                                           Committee for Indian Country
     is obligated to pick up the tab. The                                                       Law Enforcement Improvements:
     problem is that most tribes will not       1. Greenfield, Lawrence A., and                 Final Report to the Attorney
     significantly improve their econom-           Steven Smith, “American Indians              General and Secretary of the
     ic status in 3 years, nor will the need       and Crime,” U.S. Department                  Interior,” October 1997. Available
     for police disappear in that time             of Justice, Bureau of Justice                on the Web site of the U.S.
     period.”                                      Statistics, Washington, DC,                  Department of Justice, Office
                                                   February 1999 (NCJ 173386).                  of Tribal Justice, November 24,
     “The Department of Justice’s prima-
                                                2. Lujan, Carol Chiago, James                   2000,
     ry involvement in Indian Country
                                                   Riding In, and Rebecca Tsosie,               otj/icredact.htm.
     prior to this initiative was to investi-
     gate and prosecute crimes,” said              “Justice in Indian Country: A             4. For example, funds were award-
     Araujo. “This recent shift in policy          Process Evaluation of the U.S.               ed by the Office for Victims of
     seeks to empower tribes to combat             Department of Justice Indian                 Crime under the Children’s
     crime at the local level by enhancing         Country Justice Initiative,” Final           Justice Act for Native American
     programs designed to better their             Report, Executive Summary,                   Communities and Victim
     own justice systems, just as the              April 1998: 7 (NCJ 181048).                  Assistance in Indian Country,
     Department does with State and             3. The executive committee’s report             by the Violence Against
     local government.”                            and a list of members can be                 Women Office under the
                                                   found in “Report of the Executive            Violence Against Indian
                             NCJ 187713
                                                                                                Women Discretionary Grant
                                                                                                program, and by the Drug
                                                                                                Court Program Office under
                                                                                                the Tribal Drug Courts
“The Department of Justice’s primary involvement
                                                                                             5. Kyle Nayback, Director of
                                                                                                Congressional and Public
   in Indian Country prior to this initiative was                                               Affairs, telephone interview,
                                                                                                August 2000. See also National
to investigate and prosecute crimes,” said Araujo.                                              Indian Gaming Commission,
                                                                                                Indian Gaming Facts, at
  “This recent shift in policy seeks to empower                                                 http://www.indiangaming.
                                                                                                org/library/index.html (October
                                                                                                31, 2000). Note: Pueblo of Zuni
   tribes to combat crime at the local level by                                                 and Northern Cheyenne do not
                                                                                                have casino gambling. Oglala
  enhancing programs designed to better their                                                   Sioux has a limited gaming
  own justice systems, just as the Department
     does with State and local government.”

                                                                                                 National Institute of Justice Journal s April 2001

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