The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 (TLOA; P.L. 111-211, 124 Stat. 2258 § 251(b)) requires BJS to establish and implement a tribal crime data-collection system, and support tribal participation in national records and information systems. The Act specifies data collection and analysis of crimes committed on federally recognized reservations, in tribal communities, and on identified trust lands which in combination are commonly referred to as Indian country. There are approximately 326 federally recognized tribal lands in the continental United States, with an estimated population of 4.6 million persons, of which 23% are American Indian or Alaska Native (AIAN).
For crimes committed in Indian country, jurisdiction over criminal justice administration varies by the type and seriousness of the crime, whether the offender or victim is a tribal member, and the location of the offense. Crimes committed in Indian country among AIANs may be subject to concurrent jurisdiction by tribal, federal, state, or local criminal justice agencies. This is due to the sovereign status of federally recognized tribes and to Public Law 83-280 (commonly referred to as P.L. 280).
Tribal Justice Statistics Program
To meet the requirements of TLOA and to accurately measure indicators of the administration of justice in Indian country, the Tribal Justice Statistics Program (TJSP) uses a multi-measure approach, including—
- Maintaining tribal data collections including the Survey of Jails in Indian Country (SJIC), the Census of Tribal Law Enforcement Agencies (CTLEA), and the National Survey of Tribal Court Systems (NSTCS)
- Funding to enhance tribal participation in national records and information systems, including the National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP) and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Act Record Improvement Program (NARIP)
- Reporting statistical findings on the AIAN population in the federal justice system.
P.L. 280 applies in 16 states. The law permits the federal government to transfer mandatory jurisdiction over major crimes in Indian country to the state, and it permits the state to acquire optional jurisdiction, in whole or in part, over Indian country within their boundaries. Six states have established mandatory jurisdiction over crimes in Indian country, and 10 states have established optional jurisdictions.
In the 19 states with federally recognized tribes where P.L. 280 does not apply, the federal government retains criminal jurisdiction for major crimes committed in Indian country. More than 300 tribes are under P.L. 280 jurisdictions.
For more information on P.L. 280, see the U.S. Department of Justice Frequently Asked Questions page.
A list of federally recognized tribes in the U.S. is available at https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-01-29/pdf/2021-01606.pdf
- Census brief: The American Indian and Alaska Native Population: 2010
- Press release of Census brief
- BIA: 2005 American Indian Population and Labor Force Report