July 19, 2019

Hoeven, Cramer and Armstrong Introduce Legislation for the Spirit Lake Nation

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Senator Kevin Cramer and Representative Kelly Armstrong this week introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to return criminal jurisdiction to the Spirit Lake Nation for crimes committed on the reservation.


“This bill will reinforce tribal sovereignty by providing the Spirit Lake Nation with jurisdiction over criminal offenses committed on the Spirit Lake reservation, just as other North Dakota tribes currently have jurisdiction on their reservations,” said Hoeven. “This legislation will provide clarity for both the State of North Dakota and the Spirit Lake Nation when it comes to criminal offenses committed on the Tribe’s reservation.”


“Right now Spirit Lake effectively holds jurisdiction in law enforcement matters involving their tribal members. This bill changes the law to match that reality and honors the tribe’s request,” said Cramer.


“The Spirit Lake Indian Reservation has developed a criminal justice system capable of handling crimes by or against tribal members. It just makes sense to defer jurisdiction back to the tribal government. This is a common-sense bill that honors the wishes of the Spirit Lake Tribe,” said Armstrong.


The legislation repeals an outdated federal statute that authorizes the State of North Dakota to prosecute certain crimes committed by or against Indians on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation. The Spirit Lake Nation has its own tribal court system and law enforcement with the Bureau of Indian Affairs providing direct law enforcement and detention services. The Spirit Lake Nation and Governor Doug Burgum support the passage of the legislation.