Senate Indian Affairs Committee Passes Legislation for The Spirit Lake Nation

July 24, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON — Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA), today announced that the Senate Indian Affairs Committee has approved S. 2159, legislation he introduced with Senator Kevin Cramer to return criminal jurisdiction to the Spirit Lake Nation for crimes committed on the reservation. Congressman Kelly Armstrong introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives.

“Repealing this outdated law will recognize the Spirit Lake Nation’s right as a sovereign nation to prosecute certain crimes occurring on the reservation,” said Hoeven. “Our legislation is supported by the Spirit Lake Nation, as well as the Administration and the Governor of North Dakota, and would help provide clarity for both the State and the Tribe regarding jurisdiction for crimes committed on the reservation.”

“I applaud Chairman Hoeven for moving this legislation quickly, and I thank the Indian Affairs Committee members for supporting it. Our bill honors the tribe’s request and respects their right to sovereignty. I now urge the full Senate to consider it and my colleagues to vote for it,” said Cramer.

“The Spirit Lake Nation is one step closer to regaining jurisdiction over criminal matters within the reservation. I commend Senator Hoeven for passing this legislation through the Senate Indian Affairs Committee today and both Senator Hoeven and Senator Cramer for leading this bill in the Senate. I look forward to having the bill considered in the House soon,” said Armstrong.

The SCIA held a legislative hearing on the bill last Congress, where the Administration and the Spirit Lake Nation both testified in support of the bill.

The legislation repeals a 1946 federal statute that authorizes the State of North Dakota to prosecute certain crimes committed by or against Indians on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation. The Spirit Lake Nation has its own tribal court system and law enforcement with the Bureau of Indian Affairs providing direct law enforcement and detention services.

No amendments were filed to the bill. The Committee passed S. 2159 by voice vote and the legislation will now move to the Senate floor for consideration.

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