Tribal justice reform slow-going in Indian Country

AP News
Posted: Jan 16, 2013 1:53 PM
Tribal justice reform slow-going in Indian Country

ACOMA PUEBLO, N.M. (AP) — There was much hope in 2010 when President Barack Obama signed legislation aimed at giving Native American leaders more authority to combat crime on their reservations.

Two and a half years later, implementation of the law remains a mixed bag.

From New Mexico to Mississippi, law enforcement agents, prosecutors, health care workers and victim advocates have been trying to chip away at the problem, but violent crime rates remain high.

Former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, chief sponsor of the Tribal Law and Order Act, admits change has been slow.

Many of the 566 federally recognized tribes blame a lack of funding for not moving ahead more quickly.

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Some are deliberating exactly how to institute provisions of the law, while others say the relationship between tribes and the federal government has to change before significant justice system reforms can be made.