Criminal Jurisdiction on the Qualla Boundary

Last month, I traveled to a hotel located on the Eastern Cherokee Indian Reservation, or Qualla Boundary, in Cherokee, North Carolina to teach at the summer conference for North Carolina prosecutors. Probably because I had crime and criminal prosecution on my mind, I found myself wondering what happens when a person commits a crime on the reservation. What law applies? Who enforces the law? Who prosecutes the person – and where? I thought I’d do a little research and quickly find the answers. As it turns out, a complicated combination of federal, state, and tribal law governs Indian Country, including the Qualla boundary. And the answers to these questions vary depending on the race of the perpetrator and the victim and the nature of the crime.

Read more