The decision to live on a reservation is a deeply personal one, largely to do with maintaining a rapidly dissipating culture. You don’t live on a res and expect safety, efficient government or tribal government services, or even adequate nutrition. The res is a place you live not because it affords significantly better work opportunities for indigenous peoples (it does not) or because the housing is just that fantastic (it might be, but the lack of municipal wells and potable water supplies is a pesky deterrance). It’s not an ideal place to live. The American government made it that way, and to blame indiginous populations for living on a chunk of barely arable land that we had no other purpose for is a little ridiculous.
Is the conflict at the intersection of tribal and Federal authority a problem attributable solely to malice, or just misunderstanding? According to Lauren Chief Elk, it’s malice. Yep. Mostly malice. Malice born out of criminal misunderstanding is still pretty malicious for victims who would prefer a day in court.
This is a great article that goes into detail about how criminal justice is pursued in tribal lands, and the effect (intended or not) Federal legislation has on indigenous populations.
From the article: “As I read evidence from WMC’s Women Under Siege of the gender-based violence in conflicts around the world, I know our conflict isn’t by accident, either. I know that justice is being systematically denied to a specific population of people, solely based on ethnicity and geographic location. And it is being denied in a uniquely unjust fashion. The U.N. has found that in ‘no other jurisdiction within the United States does a government lack the legal authority to prosecute violent criminal offenders under its laws.’ First we’re targeted by non-Native men, then we’re robbed of our right to prosecute them.”
Blog: Hidden epidemic: Why one group of Americans is raped without justice (via Women Under Siege)