Arizona Tribe Gains Power To Prosecute Non-Indians

February 07, 2014

Three American Indian tribes in the West, including one from Arizona, will soon have the power to prosecute non-Indians for a limited set of crimes. 

The Pasqua Yaqui Tribe, along with tribes in Washington and Oregon are part of a pilot project in Indian Country. They’re the first to get the authority to prosecute non-Indians, since a Supreme Court ruling in 1978, banned the practice.

The Pasqua Yaqui have settlements north of Tucson in an area they’ve named Pascua Village and in the East Valley community of Guadalupe. The Guadalupe community is not part of the Pascua Yaqui reservation. Law enforcement authority in Guadalupe is contracted to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

Under last year’s reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, tribes will be allowed to bring cases against non-Indians for domestic violence and violations of protection orders. The three tribes in the pilot study have met the requirements to implement provisions of the law, starting Feb. 20.

Other tribes will be able to implement the measure starting in March 2015.  The changes in tribal jurisdiction are the result of the high rate of domestic violence on reservations and an effort to give tribes more authority over crime, according to the Justice Department.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been modified to reflect that the Pasqua Yaqui settlement in Guadalupe is not part of the reservation, therefore the law would not be in effect in that area.

Updated 2/7/2014 at 12:33 p.m.