Lincoln Memorial University Law Review Archive

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Tribal criminal jurisdiction has been limited by the enactment of the Indian Bill of Rights and acts that give states criminal jurisdiction over tribal lands instead of allowing tribal nations to self-govern criminal acts that occur on their lands. Additionally, Congress has used its plenary power to erode the tribal criminal jurisdiction. The United States Constitution recognizes three sovereigns: States, Foreign Nations, and Tribal Nations. This erosion, along with United States Supreme Court decisions, created a hierarchical class of sovereignty in the sovereigns recognized by the United States Constitution, with tribal nations occupying the lowest position on this hierarchy. In this lower position, tribal members, as American citizens, also occupy a lower position than any other American citizen group. In an effort to rebuild the tribal criminal jurisdiction and provide tribal members, who are victims of crimes by non-members, an appropriate remedy, a federal district court should be created on tribal reservations to provide transparency and inclusion for tribal nations.

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