In Fort Bertold, one of the largest Native American reservations in the US, tribal law enforcement is not allowed to prosecute non-native crimes on their territory, which leads to drunken oil workers thumbing their nose at the law with impunity. In a case of bureaucracy so nightmarish it would curl Franz Kafka's toes, this immunity also extends to sexual assault and rape.
This is all because of the 1978 Supreme Court case Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe, which decided that Native American tribal courts do not have jurisdiction over non-natives without specific authorization by Congress. That means that if a non-native commits a crime against a Native American on tribal land, the crime falls under federal jurisdiction, so all arrests in the case can only be made by the FBI. However, the task force devoted to this work appears to be one agent armed with a Pogo stick and a flashlight.
"It's just a regular stick now. Budget cuts."
Arrests, when they happen at all, take a very long time. In the meantime, local police can't do much of anything, even if they catch the perp red-handed. And when the offender is caught, things don't get a whole lot better. Calls are often not responded to promptly, because it takes time to determine jurisdiction for the case, and non-rez police are farther away. So by the time they finally hear about the crime, get assigned to it, and reach the victim, her rapist is often long gone, and so is any physical evidence like DNA.
That doesn't seem to matter much, though, since (evidence or not) 67 percent of cases are never prosecuted by U.S. Attorneys anyway. All this has turned areas like Fort Bertold into a perpetual Wild West reenactment, but only of the part where the natives get screwed and have no legal recourse.
For more astonishingly baffling moves by governments, check out 5 Government Programs That Backfired Horrifically and 5 Hilariously Illegal Ways Governments Solved Huge Problems.
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