Emory Law Journal


To reduce crime, and sexual violence in particular, in Indian Country, Congress should “overturn” Oliphant and grant tribes direct criminal jurisdiction over all people—Indian or not—in Indian Country. Congress should also remove sentencing limits and explicitly grant tribal courts authority to adjudicate all crimes. Accordingly, this Comment discusses the effects of present legal hurdles to prosecuting those who commit crimes in Indian Country. It shows how Congress could remove these legal barriers and addresses possible constitutional concerns about this proposal. This Comment outlines the legal benefits of this proposal, including a more harmonized and modern legal framework that enhances tribal institutions and sovereignty. This Comment also articulates the law enforcement benefits of greater reliance on tribal authorities, and it explains why tribes are better equipped than states to respond to sexual violence and why an indigenous response to rape is crucial to strengthening tribal institutions.