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Ute Tribe Jurisdiction Letter

Ute Tribe Jurisdiction Letter

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Published by Geoff Liesik

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Published by: Geoff Liesik on Feb 18, 2011
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11/17/2013

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UTE
INDIANTRIBE
P. O.Box 190Fort Duchesne, Utah 84026Phone (435) 722-5141 Fax (435) 722-5072
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January 20, 2011Uintah County Commission 152
E.
100
N. 
Vernal, Utah 84078 
Re: Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction over Rights-of-Way for United States,State and County Roads
Dear Board of Commissioners:On behalf
of
the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation ("Tribe"), werequest the support and cooperation
of
the Uintah County Commission toimmediately cease and desist any and all further patrolling and arrest and detentionof members
of
the Ute Indian Tribe by State and county officers on Tribal lands orroads, and over rights-of-way for United States, state and county roads runningthrough and across the Uintah and Ouray Reservation.Based on the plain language
of
18 U.S.C.A
§
1151 and current case law, Stateofficers do not possess criminal jurisdiction over highways or roads running throughreservation lands or alternatively lands meeting the definition
of
Indian country.The United States Congress defined Indian Country for the purposes
of
criminaljurisdiction as:(a) All land within the limits
of
any Indian reservation underthe jurisdiction
of
the United States Government,notwithstanding the issuance
of
any patent, and, includingrights-of-way running through the reservation,
..
.and (c)allIndian allotments, the Indian titles to which have not beenextinguished, including rights-of-way running through same.
18 U.S.C.A.
§
1151.
In
addition, for jurisdictional purposes on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation theCourt
in
Ute V
concluded that "Indian country extends to all trust lands, the NationalForest Lands, the Uncompahgre Reservation, and the three disputed categories
of
non-trust lands that remain within the boundaries
of
the Uintah Valley Reservation."
Ute Indian Tribe
v.
Utah,
114 F.3d 1513, 1530-1531 (10th Cir. 1985) (hereinafter
"Ute
V').
The three disputed categories of non-trust land include:
 
(1) Lands apportioned to the mixed blood Utes under the UtePartition Act, Act
of
Aug.
27,1954,
Pub.
L.
No.97-698, ch.
1009,68
Stat. 868 (codified at 25 U.S.C.
§§
677-677aa);(2) Lands allotted to individual Indians that have passed intofee status after 1905; and(3) Lands that were held
in
trust after the Reservation wasopened
in
1905 but that since have been exchanged into feestatus by the Tribe for then-fee (now trust) lands
in
an
effortto consolidate its land holdings pursuant to the IndianReorganization Act, Act
of
June 18, 1934, ch. 576, 48 Stat.984 (codified at 25 U.S.C.
§§
461-79) and the Indian LandConsolidation Act
of
1983, Pub.
L.
No. 97-459, 96 Stat. 2517(codified at 25 U.S.C.
§§
2202-11).Ute
V,
114 F.
3d
at 1529.As stated above, Indian country encompasses all trust lands within the limits
of
an
Indian reservation, all Indian allotments, the Indian titles to which have not beenextinguished, including rights-of-way for purposes
of
criminal jurisdiction. Title 18U.S.C.
§
1151
does not distinguish between fee and usufructuary rights-of-way.Thus, a tribe retains criminal jurisdiction over any right-of-way running throughIndian country as that term
is
defined.Here, any United States highway, county road or individual right-of-way (fee orusufructuary) running through the Uintah and Ouray Reservation as defined by theCourt
in
Ute
V and U.S. code
is
Indian country for the purposes
of
criminaljurisdiction. Therefore, the Ute Indian Tribe retains jurisdiction over said rights-ofway.This is further acknowledged by the 10th Circuit Court
of
Appeal
in
Ross
v.
Neff
,
905 F.2d 1349 (10th Cir.1990) (hereinafter "Ross").We are concerned that the rights-of-way granted by the Tribe for United Stateshighways, state and county roads are being unlawfully used by law enforcementofficers
in
Duchene and Uintah Counties to carry out unauthorized law enforcementactivities, which has had a detrimental effect
on
the Tribe's criminal jurisdiction.Here, the rights-of-way (fee or usurfructurary) for all roads (United States highways,county or access) running within the exterior boundaries
of
the Uintah and OurayReservation are Indian country within the meaning
of
the federal criminal code and
Ute
V.
The granting
of
an easement for a right-of-way does not confer criminaljurisdiction to the State
of
Utah or its officers. Therefore, the Ute Indian Tribe retainscriminal jurisdiction over United States highways, county and access roads runningthrough the exterior boundaries
of
the Uintah and Ouray Reservation and all otherlands identified as coming within the meaning
of
Indian country pursuant to thefederal criminal code and
Ute
V.
Based
on
case law and federal statute, state officers do not have criminaljurisdiction over Indians with Indian Country including rights-of-way throughreservations.
In
addition, without a valid warrant or consent
of
the tribe, stateofficers cannot legally pursue tribal members onto the reservation to gatherevidence. Additionally, as a general rule, state officers may not make a valid arrestoutside their territorial jurisdiction.Furthermore,state officers have no authority to investigate criminal activity involving Indians occurring within Indian country.
2 

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