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Old August 30, 2013, 02:30 PM   #1
johnwilliamson062
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"Indian Nations", Their Reservations, and My Rights

Watching Navajo Cops. They are doing a considerable number of things I don't think most departments allow, at least on camera. Of course, the director and producer might be cutting out the verbal consent given for searches and such. Gun handling is great also. I imagine most departments would have similar problems if seen handling long arms on camera regularly.

Anyways, I am wondering how the constitution relates to Reservations. All of the land is "public" and leased by residents, so that in and of itself raises some interesting questions surrounding search and seizure.

Can the tribes make any law they like?

What about transporting firearms across a reservation during travel? Most are pretty out of the way, so that may not be a common issue.

Possession of alcohol is illegal on the Navajo reservation, and the police destroy it whenever found no matter where. Can that be done in any "dry" county or township?

Horse thieves, bootleggers, mythical "skinwalkers," and meth-heads. Quite a "Cops" show actually.
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Old August 30, 2013, 03:59 PM   #2
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Indian reservations are sovereign nations. The laws that pertain to their own people on their reservations are internal matters. I don't even know if they are subject to judicial review by courts outside of the reservation -- I don't think they are.

It gets murkier when dealing with non-Indian visitors on reservation land. My understanding is that visitors are still subject to tribal law and tribal courts. But there is some overlap -- Navajo tribal police are also commissioned as deputy sheriffs in the several counties within which the reservation boundaries fall, and if a non-Indian either is a murder victim or is suspected of a murder on the reservation, the FBI gets involved.
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Old August 30, 2013, 05:32 PM   #3
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I have been wondering about this for a while and cant not find any answers. We have a few reservations in my state that I've traveled through often enough and cant find anything concerning CCW while traveling through reservation land. the only thing I heard once was you are ok while "on the highway"...
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Old August 30, 2013, 10:15 PM   #4
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I looked some more online after posting this and did not find much. One point that was made several places was the they are not really "sovereign". The land is technically owned by the US gov't and only reserved for the tribe using the same legal framework as is used to give Gov't land for military bases. Power given to a more or less appointed tribal council and a great many claims of pretty extreme corruption and abuse of power. Tribal council fills the roles of legislative, executive, and judicial in most cases. They can shut down any business by a vote. Pretty crazy to think about it being within the US and no wonder there is so little economic development on reservations.

550 Reservations in the US, so that has to be a HUGE amount of territory. The Navajo reservation has to be larger than quite a few states.

In one of the later episodes they caught a non-tribal member and they called the Sheriff to take custody of him.

One of the most interesting things is getting locked up for 8 hours seems to be the punishment for almost everything.
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Old August 31, 2013, 02:28 PM   #5
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I was actually hired by an Arizona tribal government to help monitor their election a couple of years back. Very, very interesting. This was the San Carlos Apaches...all observations relate to THIS group.

First, I was impressed by their police department. They are more closely tied to their community than I've ever seen elsewhere...there is no indication that they have the "occupying force" mentality seen in most US towns. I saw more communication between the people and the cops than I've ever seen in the "normal US". All of their cops are from that band, no exceptions. Their gear and professionalism seemed well up to modern standards without veering too far into the realm of "paramilitary". They did run body armor and had rifles available in their cars but let's remember that drug transportation in Arizona's back country is a total plague and has nothing to do with tribal members.

Second, the level of involvement in the tribe's internal politics has to be seen to be believed. The photos I took of the election process are the property of the tribe and I don't have permission to release them but...lemme tell ya, those guys took their local elections seriously. To a complete "holy crap!" level. Not violent but..."very spirited". Example...in most areas there's a limit of how close to the polls you can get and do political statements...100ft is pretty typical, some a bit more, some a bit less. I forget exactly what they did but it was normal enough...except the people setting up the polling place were VERY carefully measuring and marking that space. To a near-paranoid degree. I'm thinking "huh?". Well by around 8:00am it looked like a mutant cross between a giant flea market and a political convention gone haywire...each candidate had this fairly large booth/tent thing up, people were screaming on bullhorns, it was borderline pandemoneum . BUT no violence.



One of the stranger parts of the election process is that prisoners are allowed to vote. So if you're in the normal Arizona jail or prison system, you would be bussed in to the polls in jumpsuits and handcuffs/legirons and shuffle into the polling place to vote. They believed in maintaining as many social connections to the incarcerated as possible and that included elections.

So. On the issue of CCW.

Handgunlaw.us has a partial listing:

http://www.handgunlaw.us/documents/tribal_law_ccw.pdf

Looking through the AZ tribes, you see some that follow the AZ CCW laws, some don't. Some have their own permit process. A lot say "in the car is OK" which covers travelers on the way through. I say "partial" because the San Carlos Apaches aren't on there and I see others missing as well.
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Old August 31, 2013, 03:34 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnwilliamson062
One of the most interesting things is getting locked up for 8 hours seems to be the punishment for almost everything.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim March
I was actually hired by an Arizona tribal government to help monitor their election a couple of years back. Very, very interesting. This was the San Carlos Apaches...all observations relate to THIS group.

First, I was impressed by their police department. They are more closely tied to their community than I've ever seen elsewhere...there is no indication that they have the "occupying force" mentality seen in most US towns. I saw more communication between the people and the cops than I've ever seen in the "normal US". All of their cops are from that band, no exceptions. Their gear and professionalism seemed well up to modern standards without veering too far into the realm of "paramilitary". They did run body armor and had rifles available in their cars but let's remember that drug transportation in Arizona's back country is a total plague and has nothing to do with tribal members.

Second, the level of involvement in the tribe's internal politics has to be seen to be believed. The photos I took of the election process are the property of the tribe and I don't have permission to release them but...lemme tell ya, those guys took their local elections seriously. To a complete "holy crap!" level. Not violent but..."very spirited". Example...in most areas there's a limit of how close to the polls you can get and do political statements...100ft is pretty typical, some a bit more, some a bit less. I forget exactly what they did but it was normal enough...except the people setting up the polling place were VERY carefully measuring and marking that space. To a near-paranoid degree. I'm thinking "huh?". Well by around 8:00am it looked like a mutant cross between a giant flea market and a political convention gone haywire...each candidate had this fairly large booth/tent thing up, people were screaming on bullhorns, it was borderline pandemoneum . BUT no violence.

One of the stranger parts of the election process is that prisoners are allowed to vote. So if you're in the normal Arizona jail or prison system, you would be bussed in to the polls in jumpsuits and handcuffs/legirons and shuffle into the polling place to vote. They believed in maintaining as many social connections to the incarcerated as possible and that included elections.
All of that sounds pretty close to how things ought to be. (8 hours in jail sounds a little short for anything more than "drunk and disorderly" though, maybe a weekend)
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Old August 31, 2013, 03:54 PM   #7
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From the small window into the police culture I have seen, I have to agree with what Jim March said about the police department being more connected with people and less paramilitary. In one episode a deputy brought along his "Sniper rifle." It appeared to be a run of the mill hunting rifle. Some ARs, but more shotguns.
I would also say the respect for the police officers generally appears much higher. In many cases people just admit to what they have done and go to jail for their 8 hours. In one case a guy said he would go without a fight as long as he would be released for work the next day, but otherwise he couldn't go.
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Old August 31, 2013, 04:15 PM   #8
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I've fought muay thai on the rez a few times and one of my friends who consulted for Baker v. kealoha on appellate procedure specializes in Indian law. Accordingly I know a little about how it works. So for the most part unless agreed upon otherwise the states have no authority over Indian lands that exist inside their borders. The Indian lands are only subject to federal law except for a few exceptions that do not apply here. A example of this is the State of California in all its wisdom requires at the minimum (it goes up based on many factors) 50 thousand dollar license fee to be paid to host a mma fight. That has drive pro fights onto the reservation other than the most elite of course. Amateur shows don't have to pay that which means California is in a odd position where pro shows are actually much less organized and are in the middle of reservations. The ammies are actually done often times downtown in nice bars and other scenic venues.

As applied to firearms that means that only federal law applies and Indian Reservations are not subject to state CCW laws. The laws are made by the tribes elder council and typically are fairly lax as to guns. b
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Old August 31, 2013, 04:28 PM   #9
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Reservations are classed as a sovereign nations. It is not public land!! In Minnesota we have several reservations and a couple of them are closed which means that non-members are not allowed to enter the reservations unless they have been given written permission. Non-members who are found there are placed under arrest and guns, fishing tackle, automobiles, motor homes, boats and even airplanes have been confiscated by the tribe. They are required to go before the Indian Court by proxy (remember you need authorization to enter the reservations and you need to hire a tribal lawyer to defend you) in an effort to get there possessions back.
As a non tribal member you have NO rights that are to you given by the US constitution what so ever while on tribal land. As a sovereign nation none of the federal or state regulatory laws apply to them in any way or form. For example any one at any age can drive an automobile, no license is required. They don't have to obey speed limits that is posted on US or State hi-ways. They don't have to obey stop signs. They don't need ccw permit to carry a weapon. They do come under federal jurisdiction and it's laws. As a non tribal member you must follow and obey their tribal laws. In the event you run a-mok of the Indian Police you detained and remain detained until they can turn you over to the FBI or the U.S. Marshals office. When you are detained you must purchase all food, toiletries, blankets and such.
So a word to the wise is to keep a very low profile and keep your nose clean when on a reservation. Bad situations have a way of turning very, very bad when dealing with their legal system.
In the event you ask how I know this. I live just outside of an indian reservation, I've seen it. I know people who have experienced it. I have friends and employees that are tribal members.
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Old August 31, 2013, 05:10 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by zxcvbob
All of that sounds pretty close to how things ought to be. (8 hours in jail sounds a little short for anything more than "drunk and disorderly" though, maybe a weekend)
The Navajo culture, in general, is about balance and harmony ("hosro" or "hozro" in their language) rather than punishment or vengeance or retribution.
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Old August 31, 2013, 06:49 PM   #11
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Reservations are classed as a sovereign nations. It is not public land!!
That is what I thought, but when I looked it up it appears that isn't the reality. The Federal government owns the land, not the tribe. It is a US territory. Like a military base, the tribe has control. The set-up is very similar to military bases. Although I live near Wright-Patt and it is "publicly owned", that doesn't mean I can just walk onto the property either. It is "reserved" for Air Force use and the Air Force governs it for the most part. I give up a couple of my rights when I go onto the base. For instance my car can be searched at any time. Federal Law enforcement seems to have jurisdiction on reservations, although in most case there is "inter-agency cooperation."

The "Indian reservations" seem to be no more sovereign in practice than the various states.

On guns, in one episode they did seize a firearm in relation to a crime, and although not extremely clear on the issue the officer seemed to indicate no matter the outcome of the prosecution they were keeping the firearm.

They also taze at will. I am not sure they have the 5 second tazer like most police either.
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Old August 31, 2013, 07:19 PM   #12
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In this area crime by non-Indians on Indian land is handled by the federal magistrate. It can get complicated.

http://www.nativetimes.com/index.php...ight&Itemid=31

More:

Quote:
What is Indian Country: The definition of Indian Country is set forth by federal law (18 U.S.C. ยง 1151) as follows:

(a) all land within the limits of any Indian reservation under the jurisdiction of the United States Government, notwithstanding the issuance of any patent, and, including rights-of-way running through the reservation, (b) all dependent Indian communities within the borders of the United States whether within the original or subsequently acquired territory thereof, and whether within or without the limits of a State, and (c) all Indian allotments, the Indian titles to which have not been extinguished, including rights-of-way running through the same.


More: http://www.tribal-institute.org/lists/jurisdiction.htm
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Old August 31, 2013, 07:31 PM   #13
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Indian reservations are basically territories like Guam except they are inside mainland states. There are slight differences the most obvious of which being they don't have article IV courts and the Organic Actdid not create them rather various treaties. This is the Organic Act http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_Act

However they are pretty analogous to a territory.

They are part of the U.S. The federal government does not own the land anymore than it owns a persons house that lives in Washington D.C. It has jurisdiction over Indian Lands.

Since this is a Second Amendment forum here is a example of how they differ from a state. The Federal Switchblade ban which I assume will be amended after my current appeal establishes knives are protected arms is not a complete ban on ownership of switchblades in a American state. Congress does not have authority to do that. It only affects interstate commerce. However on Guam, Saipan and Indian land it is a complete ban on ownership.
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Old August 31, 2013, 08:35 PM   #14
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When I originally said "public lands" I did mean the tribe owns it, at least in the Navajo reservation. Tribe members just acquire leases. Sounded like limited leases, such as grazing rights only with public hunting allowed. As such there isn't as clear of personal property rights as it isn't so much personal property. A police officer could stand outside and look through a window without being on your property, at least that seems to be how they play it. In one case a family was upset their previous lease was transferred to another family after they had it for a couple generations(the specifics of the transfer were not covered). They were attempting to intimidate the new lessee into surrendering the lease by shooting over their head.
Decent Paper on Tribal Sovereignty
Quote:
The situation after 1934 remained complexly disordered. One might say of Indian sovereignty, "now you see it, now you don't." In 1973, in McClanahan v. Arizona, 411 U.S. 164, the Supreme Court invalidated a state income tax on individual Indians on an Indian reservation. The Court relied on the principle of "tribal sovereignty," yet suggested that such sovereignty might not be inherent, but rather derived from federal power.
The phrase "limited sovereignty" is sprinkled throughout. Either you are the some source of legitimate force or you aren't. "Limited Sovereign" is like my parents telling me I was old enough I could make my own decisions when I was 16. It only took me a few weeks to figure out "my" car was titled in my fathers name as was the house I lived in.
It seems the BIA approves all casino plans for instance.

Quote:
The United States and others argued that "rights" adhere only to individuals, and that no group may be recognized as having any legal existence independent of a state.
A little off base, but was the US government arguing against incorporation when it argued against tribal/indigenous "peoples" rights?

I could probably split this off into ten small threads in order to keep the different directions clear. A very interesting and hypocritical area of modern US law IMO.
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Old August 31, 2013, 09:29 PM   #15
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550 Reservations in the US, so that has to be a HUGE amount of territory. The Navajo reservation has to be larger than quite a few states.
You can break those concepts down in quite a few ways:

1. There may be 550 recognized tribes, but there are only 309 or 311 reservations (depending on who you ask ). Some recognized tribes have no tribal lands, at all; and there are several hundred tribes that the government does not recognize (also, of course, with no tribal lands).

2. Huge amount of territory? Not really. Most reservations are actually quite small. Many are less than 160 acres, total. In the midwest, there are several reservation on less than 10 acres; and in California, there are multiple reservations with less than 3 acres (several with only 1.2 or 1.5 acres). The total of all Indian lands in the US is just over 55,700,000 acres (2.3% of the U.S.), with the Navajo Nation, alone, holding more than 17 million of those acres (or 0.7% of the U.S. and 32% of all tribal lands).

3. As shown above, the Navajo reservation is the largest in the United States, by a significant margin. It is not representative of most reservations - even other large reservations. Even so, the 50 largest reservations account for 93% of all tribal lands. That leaves about 260 other reservations on just 7% of the land (~3.9 million acres).

4. Not all land is created equally. In most places, reservations were located in places where there was believed to be no value in the land (not even by grazing cattle or sheep). Most Indian reservations are on what was historically the nastiest, driest, most worthless pieces of land you could find. (A drive through the Uintah-Ouray reservation in Utah or the original [small] Navajo Nation, will show a perfect example of a deplorable location that no one else wanted.) So, the "huge" amounts of land appropriated for some reservations was required to make a living.
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Old August 31, 2013, 10:47 PM   #16
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The land that the reservations are on, at least here in Minnesota are not owned by the US Government. They are owned by the tribe. When the treaty was made and signed the land was CEDED by the US govt. and given to the indians in the 19th century. Each tribal member was given title to 40 acres of land. This land was not even supposed to be taxed, but it was and then sold off to settlers for back taxes. Now today in the 21st century if you own indian land that was purchased for back taxes, you are going to have a terrible time getting a clear and clean title to the land.
The tribes have been known to go to a city or town off the reservation and purchase property. That property becomes tribal land just like the reservation. They can do what they want because the property becomes part of and under the jurisdiction of the tribe and they don't have go by Zoning laws. Mostly they just build casinos. This fight has been going on in our courts for close to 50 years now. The problem is that when the treaties were made a lot of them were written by Captains and Lieutenants who didn't know what they were doing. To my knowledge not one Secretary of State or Secretary of war had anything to do with negotiating a treaty. Which was a norm when drafting a treaty with any other nation. They did some stupid things and made impossible promises.
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Old September 1, 2013, 10:05 PM   #17
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I know a little bit about the reservations, (having lived next door to one for many years) and how the State can/does interface with the tribe.

First and foremost, they are members of a group, usually with a minimum of 1/8th provable native American ancestry, that have agreed to live by tribal and US Government laws. (not state law) Tribal law only applies to tribal members. It does not apply to non-native Americans even if those non-tribal members live within the reservation. (BTW: A full blood native can be voted out of the tribe too)

In some states there is an agreement between the state and the Tribe that tribal police can enforce state law on non-tribal members, if state law has been violated by non-tribal members. (as here in WA) but they cannot enforce tribal law on non-tribal members.

In some states, (like Idaho does? or at least used to) the state insists that tribal officers can only detain non-tribal members until state LE arrives. Non-tribal members should never be tried in tribal court, the same as, tribal members are turned over to tribal authorities, even if the offense was committed on non-tribal land and is a violation of state law, non-tribal members are tried in state or federal court.

As for a non-tribal member passing through on a public highway, tribal police here will arrest for DWI and other traffic offenses on non-tribal members, but the non-tribal member will be tried in state court. Carry of a firearm by a non-tribal member is state law on or off the res while on a public highway.

Carry of a firearm by a tribal member on the res is tribal law, off reservation is state law, but handled in tribal court. The Colville reservation is over 1.35 million acres and has 12 recognized tribes residing on it. It started out as 7 million acres but has lost a lot, some of it sold, some of it removed by executive order. I live on what is called the "north res" (part of the original 7 million acres, not part of the present 1.35 million acres) on private property. Most of the land on the "North Res" is private (non-tribal) with the exceptions of a few allotments, and that tribal members can hunt and fish under tribal law up here.

At least, this is how it works here in Washington state, and I believe it is the same in Oregon. I know Idaho was negotiating with the tribe for a similar arrangement. In Idaho it is (was? don't know if the process is finished) required that tribal police call the Idaho State Police, and tribal police can (could) only detain a non-tribal member.
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Old September 2, 2013, 02:21 AM   #18
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At least, this is how it works here in Washington state, and I believe it is the same in Oregon. I know Idaho was negotiating with the tribe for a similar arrangement. In Idaho it is (was? don't know if the process is finished) required that tribal police call the Idaho State Police, and tribal police can (could) only detain a non-tribal member.
Even in Idaho, it depends on the area ... or even the officer.

Some of the officers for the Fort Hall (Shoshone-Bannock) reservation, for example, are also county sheriff's deputies (for one or more of the four counties the reservation "lies within" [a debatable concept]). At the same time, some of those same officers are also sworn game wardens. And, separately, some of the tribal officers are sworn game wardens, but not sheriff's deputies.

But, some of the reservations farther west, and farther north, in Idaho, have completely different arrangements with local, regional, and state government entities.

To make matters more complex, deeded lands within the reservation can be sold to non-natives; and a large number of non-natives do live on the reservation (my wife and I have considered buying several places). As such, there are portions of the reservation that are primarily patrolled only by sheriff's deputies (tribal or not) due to the predominantly non-native population, but generally not by cops that are tribal-only.

How something may be handled, if the police are called or if you're pulled over on the reservation, may just depend on who the responding officer happens to be.



No matter what reservation you want to discuss, the bottom line is the same as what I was taught growing up:
Don't do anything illegal on an Indian reservation, and you won't have to deal with the question of how they will handle prosecution.


If you don't already know what's legal/illegal, find out before you "test the water".
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Old September 2, 2013, 08:07 AM   #19
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The "Indian reservations" seem to be no more sovereign in practice than the various states.
I also tried to do some research on this subject and found the definition of "sovergein" to be very murky. The reservations are/are not independant. The Feds seem to leave the indians alone except when they want to intervene. I still don't understand if the indians are U.S. citizens and whether they can vote in Federal elections.
What I do know is the reservation system has been a failure.
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Old September 2, 2013, 12:00 PM   #20
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They are considered US citizens and they do vote in all elections. Matter of fact they are very involved in elections and have their own lobbyists and PAC programs.
When the draft was active, they were required to register and many were drafted.
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Old September 2, 2013, 02:31 PM   #21
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One of the stranger parts of the election process is that prisoners are allowed to vote. So if you're in the normal Arizona jail or prison system, you would be bussed in to the polls in jumpsuits and handcuffs/legirons and shuffle into the polling place to vote. They believed in maintaining as many social connections to the incarcerated as possible and that included elections.
In eleven years of state corrections, I have never seen this, heard of it, or read it in any of our policies, including Transportation. Sorry, restricted policy, can't discuss it. It's an interesting idea, but not one I have ever heard of before, having been in AZ for approx 45+ years so far.
Reservations are governed by treaty, and each treaty is different. There is no one special way to approahc ALL the tribal lands, as you will have to check with each individual tribe to find out what they're laws/treaty requirements are. The Navajos have a VERY strong treaty - they managed to get an exemption to the draft for Vietnam, as I've been told, even though reportedly several tribal members volunteered. As for tribal police being close knit members of society, perhaps that reservation is true for that, but Tohono O'odham hires many non tribal members for their PD, which covers a HUGE area. I had a few buddies who worked there, great pay.
I stay out of the reservations, as an AZ CCW is no good there, and even my Dept ID might not be enough to get off a carry problem. I also don't gamble, which eases many problems. When I worked armored trucking, we picked up the first casinos in southern Arizona, and we had permission to carry our sidearms and long guns on tribal lands, but only for money pickup. I saw enough money coming in from the casinos every day to realize the odds are terrible.
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Old September 2, 2013, 02:54 PM   #22
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In eleven years of state corrections, I have never seen this, heard of it,
Do they send prisoners from reservation to state prison? They had their own facility, although not super big, in the TV show. It looked more like a "county lock-up" than a "prison." The Ohio prisons have dozens of times the capacity. The population of Ohio is probably dozens of times as large also.
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Old September 2, 2013, 03:44 PM   #23
buckhorn_cortez
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1. All Indian reservations are different and have different laws and relationships with the state or states they are located within.

2. Specific to the Navajo Nation: the Navajo Nation recognizes the right of safe passage through the Nation under Federal Law (Firearm Owner's Protection Act). As long as you are on a highway right-of-way, you may have an unloaded gun in your possession as follows.

When traveling through the Navajo Nation, the gun must be unloaded and locked in the trunk, with the ammunition in a different location. If you do not have a trunk, then the unloaded firearm must be in a locked gun case with the ammunition in a separate, locked case.

If you are pulled over by the Navajo Tribal Police and they find a loaded weapon, they will confiscate the weapon and ammunition. In order to get the weapon and ammunition back from the Navajo Nation, you must provide a bill of sale in your name for the gun and the ammunition.
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Old September 2, 2013, 05:02 PM   #24
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And who "owns" the land isn't material. Not all governments own the land their embassies are located on. They are still that nation's territory. You won't an arm of the US Government invade an embassy we want to continue to have relations with any time soon.
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Old September 2, 2013, 08:16 PM   #25
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In eleven years of state corrections, I have never seen this, heard of it, or read it in any of our policies, including Transportation. Sorry, restricted policy, can't discuss it.
I saw these guys shuffle off of a bus with county jail markings.
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