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Changing Federal Role in Indian Country

NCJ Number
National Institute of Justice Journal Dated: April 2001 Pages: 8-13
Date Published
April 2001
6 pages
Publication Series
This article discussed the Federal Government’s revised efforts and approach in handling crime and justice on Indian lands facing an increasing public safety crisis.
In the waning of traditional Indian culture and social controls and the introduction and dominance of Western culture, today’s Indian Country is facing a public safety crisis. American Indians living in the United States are victims of violent crime at more than twice the rate of all U.S. residents and the number of law enforcement officers patrolling tribal lands is far behind the per capita ratio in non-Indian communities. This public safety crisis has prompted the Federal Government to rethink its approach to crime and justice on Indian lands. This article described various Federal Government initiatives and collaborative efforts to empower tribes to combat crime at the local level. In supporting traditional customs, the Department of Justice launched the Indian Country Justice Initiative in 1995 to streamline the Department of Justice’s (DOJ's) support for Indian Country. This initiative advocated innovative approaches to justice that provided for strengthening traditional mechanisms of social control, such as mentoring between elders and youth and the assigning of non-violent offenders to work on various projects with leaders within their villages. A collaborative funding initiative to improve relations between the Federal Government (Justice Department) and Tribal Nations was the Comprehensive Indian Resources for Community and Law Enforcement (CIRCLE) project. This project is a 3-year Federal effort that promotes the exchange of ideas and experiences and fosters coordination among the tribes for more efficient use of resources. It focuses on the development and implementation of a comprehensive strategic plan and streamlines DOJ resources so tribes can apply for grants through a single application. This collaborative effort from DOJ offices and the streamlining of the grant making process helps tribes pull together resources for better planning efforts and treatments for some ailing social problems. Prior to this initiative the Department of Justice’s main involvement in Indian Country was to investigate and prosecute crimes. This initiative aids in the empowerment of tribes to combat crime at the local level by enhancing programs designed to better their own justice systems.

Date Published: April 1, 2001