The Champion

December 2010 , Page 38 

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Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010: A Primer, With Reservations

By Quintin Cushner; Jon M. Sands

The Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA) is the most sweeping criminal justice reform relating to Indian Country in more than 40 years. Effective July 29, 2010, the TLOA strengthens law enforcement, alters tribal criminal justice, increases tribal sentencing authority, and extends federal authority over Indian Country and Indians.1 The questions and answers below are intended as an introduction to the TLOA for criminal law practitioners who will grapple with the ramifications of this bill for years to come.

To understand the changes set forth in the TLOA, a brief review of the four main congressional acts affecting criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country is in order. The Constitution grants Congress explicit power in dealing with Indian tribes recognized as “domestic dependent nations.”2 This power was recognized early in the Republic.3 The four acts are: (1) the Federal Enclaves Act, also known as the General Crimes Act;4 (2) the Major Crimes Act;5 (3) Public

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