Criminal Law in Indian Country

Criminal Law in Indian Country

This course, Criminal Law in Indian Country, is designed to reflect upon crime and punishment in Indian Country, and the shared “criminal” history of tribal nations.  The materials are designed to investigate issues of criminal law, constitutional law and Indian law as they affect Indian individuals, Tribes, and policy. We will identify and explore impacts on Tribal sovereignty and individual rights of Native American Indians that have occurred over time through U.S. policy, statute and case law in the name of crime and punishment – including Treaties, Crow Dog and the Major Crimes Act, Public Law 280,  the Indian Civil Rights Act, Oliphant and Duro, and the more recent Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010. With historical impacts in mind, we examine contemporary issues, such as Native American overrepresentation in the criminal justice system, sentencing disparity, and Natives juveniles in the system.  Students will also have an opportunity to review the unique aspects of criminal jurisdiction in different regions as part of the general understanding of criminal law and justice in Indian Country.  

Through a problem-solving approach, students will prepare a final paper and present on an issue related to criminal law in Indian Country.  The goal of the paper/presentation is to expand and incorporate knowledge and contribute solutions to an emerging body of scholarship in this important and often misunderstood area of Indian law.  

Sidney L. Harring, Crow Dog’s Case:  American Indian Sovereignty, Tribal Law, and United States Law in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1994)
Additional Course materials to be assigned by the professor.

William C. Canby, Jr., American Indian Law in a Nutshell, 4th edition, 2004.

The final grade will be based upon a seminar paper/presentation, in-class participation, and course assignments.

The course is open to all students. There are no pre-requisites, but Indian Law or a background in Native American law or studies is recommended.