In the United States, much of the litigation arising involving Indian tribes and territories revolves around one issue: jurisdiction. Because of the complex inter-weaving of tribal, federal, and state (including county governments and municipalities) jurisdiction in United States Indian country, it can be difficult to determine which entity or entities have the authority to adjudicate a particular case or controversy. Indeed, even the term Indian Country, as used here, has been subject to much dispute. In the criminal arena, the intersection of tribal, state and federal jurisdiction is particularly problematic. For our nation's co-existing criminal justice systems to operate as efficiently as possible, it is imperative that all individuals working in or with criminal justice systems in Indian country have an understanding of the jurisdictional rules that apply to criminal offenses occurring in United States Indian country. The purpose of this article is to provide a framework for determining which governmental authority has jurisdiction over a specific crime committed in Indian country as a guide for anthropologists and practitioners working with Native Americans.

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