Native tribe sues United States for Pine Ridge’s lack of law enforcement | News about indigenous rights
Holly Wilson was just leaving to get soda for a steak dinner with her nine grandchildren last May when a volley of bullets hit her home on the street. largest Native American reserve in South Dakota, part of the midwestern United States.
Her six-year-old grandson, Logan Warrior Goings, jumped out of the family loveseat and ran across the room to his grandfather — and was shot in the head. It took at least 15 minutes for a single tribal law enforcement officer to arrive. But then the driving shooters were gone, and Logan, a “kind and gentle” boy who loved Xbox and his Siamese cat Simon, died.
Wilson, 62, said: “He was the sweetest boy. It’s very nice to help grandma. He is my best partner.”
Months later, father and son lived near Wilson on Pine Ridge Indian Reserve, home of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, was shot dead by an intruder and their bodies were not found for six days, she said. Recently, Wilson’s oldest son was gunned down at his home.
These types of crimes are becoming increasingly common across the 14,000 square kilometer (5,400 sq mi) reserve. Tribal officials say only 33 officers and eight criminal investigators are responsible for more than 100,000 emergency calls each year across the reserve, which is the size of Connecticut.
The officers and investigators are both federally funded – but the tribe says a law enforcement presence is not enough.
The tribe sued the Bureau of Indian Affairs and several senior officials in July, accusing the United States of failing to comply with their regulations. treaty obligations as well as its fiduciary responsibility by failing to adequately provide law enforcement to resolve the “public safety crisis” on the booking.
The federal government countered in court documents that the tribe could not prove treaties obliging the United States to provide the tribe with “priority personnel or funding for law enforcement.” After two days of hearing this week, a judge said he would review the case in consultation.
“We need change. Everyone is tired of the same old talk. It’s all just talk, talk, talk every year and our people have suffered for decades,” Oglala Sioux Tribe President Frank Star Comes Out told The Associated Press. “We believe now is the time to make that point.”
The federal government has a fiduciary duty to the Indigenous States and has made promise to the tribes below treaty agreementRobert Miller, a law professor at Arizona State University and a registered citizen of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe in Oklahoma, explains that this book should be read freely and in favor of Native American tribes .
“If federal law enforcement is regrettably weak, which most agencies are reluctant to do, it will not be able to fulfill its obligations as an authorized person,” he said. trusteeship, as guardian of the states of India.
Indigenous nations have increasingly advocated treaty rights, including hunting, fishing and education, in the courtroom, with some success. In 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued McGir’s landmark decisionruled that a large portion of eastern Oklahoma, promised in treaties with Muscogee Nation (the Creek), would remain a reserve.
In court documents in this case, the Oglala Sioux Tribe points to treaties such as the Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1868, which provided that if someone committed a crime against a Native American, the United States would “proceed to proceed.” immediately to arrest the offender and be punished according to the laws of the United States, and to compensate the injured for the losses suffered.”
Star Comes Out said he hopes Oglala Sioux’s lawsuit, filed just days after the Northern Cheyenne Tribe of Montana filed a similar case, will help set an example for other tribes in the Great Plains and beyond. more, people who are facing similar situations.
The South Dakota Reserve, about 130 kilometers (80 mi) southeast of Rapid City, straddles the Nebraska border and the Bakken oil fields.
Patricia Marks, a tribal lawyer, explains that the location is convenient for both human and drug trafficking, while the lack of police makes it known as a “lawless area”.
“We have seen a radical increase in guns, gun violence,” she said. “We had a radical increase in hard narcotics. That’s heroin. It’s fentanyl. It’s meth. Those are life-threatening things.”
Oglala Sioux officials said that between January and June 2022, tribal law enforcement received 285 reports of missing people, 308 gun-related calls and 49 reports of people missing. rape. Marks said there are typically only five tribal officers in any given shift, and response times to firearm-related calls can range from 40 minutes to an hour.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2020, Oglala Sioux tribal law enforcement reported 155 more violent crimes compared with 2017.
Criminal jurisdiction in the “Indian Nation” is complex and depends on whether the suspect, victim, or both are Native Americans, as well as where the crime occurred.
The federal government, tribes, and counties have worked to increase public safety on reserves — in some locations, Indigenous women killed with more speed 10 times the national average — with approaches that include cross-trust agreements, expanded sentencing jurisdiction to tribes, and programs that allow tribal prosecutors to hear cases in federal court.
For example, the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 expanded the sentencing authority of tribal courts under certain conditions.
The Justice Department has also worked to increase funding for tribes to tackle crime, including last year when officials announced it would give more than $246 million in grants to indigenous communities to improve public safety and help crime victims.
But the tribe said none of this was enough.
At the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has jurisdiction over a wide range of major crimes. But its closest office is in Rapid City, so it can take more than two hours for agents to arrive, Marks explained.
“For all practical purposes, it is the tribal police who are the first responders regardless of the type of crime,” she said. “They’re the ones who have to get out there and answer the call.”
According to court documents, the tribe will need more than 140 policemen on the reserve to combat rampant crime.
JoAnn Sierra, 79, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, said her two sons and two grandsons were killed at or near the reserve. She said the most recent case involved her grandson, Justin Little Hawk, 40, in November 2020, who was ambushed by a man he did not recognize while driving a truck. Sierra’s two teenage grandchildren.
The man sat in the backseat of Sierra’s car and shot Little Hawk after the other grandchildren ran out. He died just before Christmas and the person responsible was never convicted, Sierra said.
“It just makes me feel lost… Why is this happening here?” Sierra asked. “Why can’t I move?”
Since Logan’s death, who was given the Lakota name Petá Zi Hoksila, meaning Golden Fire Boy, Wilson has posted signs on the reserve that read “Justice for Logan” and “Who Killed Me” yours?” in hopes of drawing attention to his death.
She said that, after Logan was shot, she waited months to hear from the FBI, and when she tried to talk to tribal law enforcement, they were limited about what. they may say due to jurisdictional issues.
Wilson said she believes that if law enforcement had reacted more quickly, her grandson’s case could have been resolved.
“It’s sad that we have to take those measures as a tribe to get the help that should have been there,” she said through tears. “It was supposed to be there according to the treaties. And we all had to live like this. Losing people. Bereavement.”