Skip to main content

Feds will soon be able to prosecute more crimes on a MN reservation

  • Author:
  • Updated:

A Minnesota American Indian tribe hopes a new agreement that gives federal officials the ability to prosecute more criminals will help deter crime.

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe is now the second tribe in the country to have the federal government assume concurrent jurisdiction over major crimes on the reservation (we'll explain what this means below).

This is good news for the tribe, Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin said in the 32nd annual State of the Band address, noting it means crimes committed on the reservation can be prosecuted in federal court. Those convicted will then be sentenced to federal prison.

That means stronger penalties for violent criminals, which will hopefully deter crime on the reservation, Benjamin says.

“We need this message to go out to drug dealers, gang members and anyone intent on committing violent crimes on our lands: we will catch you, and when we do, you are going to Leavenworth, not Stillwater ... and you are not getting out for a very, very long time. Tell the dealers ... if you don’t want to go to federal prison, get off our lands now, and stay out," Benjamin said, according to an email news release.

The Department of Justice already has jurisdiction to prosecute certain crimes (such as drug trafficking) on reservations and elsewhere in the United States, a DOJ email news release says. But this move will allow federal prosecution of other major crimes as well, including murder, rape, felony assault, and felony child abuse.

“We believe this decision – made after a careful review of the tribe’s application and the facts on the ground – will strengthen public safety and the criminal justice system serving the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe,” Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates said in the news release. 

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe is the second tribe to have its application for assumption of federal jurisdiction under the 2010 Tribal Law and Order Act be approved. The first was the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota in March 2013, a news release notes.

The assumption will take effect on Jan. 1, 2017, with the Department of Justice noting prosecutors and law enforcement agencies on the tribal, state and county level will also continue to have criminal jurisdiction on the reservation.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-05-23 at 9.58.36 PM

Eric Perkins, Miss Minnesota, Paul Fletcher create new podcast

The podcast is released Tuesdays at 8 a.m. and is available wherever you find podcasts.

Mock aircraft cabin.

MSP Airport debuts mock aircraft to help ease flying anxiety

The pre-flight experiences cover the TSA screening procedure, exploring a terminal, boarding a plane and meeting a pilot, and preparing for takeoff.

Scripps National Spelling Bee

These Minnesota kids will be competing at National Spelling Bee

The upcoming event in Maryland will be the first fully in-person Scripps National Spelling Bee since 2019.

covid, kids

New data shows how omicron has impacted kids in Minnesota

The new data shows breakthrough data during the omicron period, which began Dec. 19, 2021.

Javen Juan Moreno

Albert Lea shooting suspect arrested after 3 weeks on the run

He is accused of shooting a man in the upper thigh on May 1.


Motorcyclist, 59, killed after losing control on right curve

The Harley Davidson rider was thrown from his bike.

state capitol Minnesota

Minnesota's 2022 legislative session: What's happening?

A list of items agreed upon and yet to reach any bipartisan agreement in the latest legislative session.

water drain

Water main break floods 40-45 homes in St. Louis Park

The city says the rupture happened on Minnetonka Boulevard.

Eli Hart

Charges: 6-year-old Eli Hart shot up to 9 times by his mother

The 28-year-old is facing 2nd-degree murder charges.

dave lee wcco radio

Former WCCO Radio host Dave Lee moves into podcasts

His new podcast, called 'My First Concert,' launched last week.

Tow Boat

Tow boat collides with Mississippi River lock and dam in Alma, WI

The crash remains under investigation by the United States Coast Guard.

unsplash school bus

Police: Man in minivan approached kids, claimed he was former principal

Investigators say children were approached by a man in a white minivan who falsely claimed he'd been a local school principal.