Panel works to make Reservation communities safer - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Panel works to make Reservation communities safer

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Violent crime rates can reach 20 times the national average on American Indian Reservations - and the Tribal Law and Order Act aims to change that.

Over the past two years, a nine-person panel called the Tribal Law and Order Commission has traveled to Native American communities, seeking recommendations as to how they can be made safer.

This week, the panel released a report detailing 40 recommendations. One suggestion is expanding the authority of Tribal police, and giving Tribes the ability to prosecute non-Indians.

South Dakota Secretary of Tribal Relations JR LaPlante testified for the panel at a local field hearing and recommended more State-Tribal mutual aid agreements.

A good example is the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe's partnership with the South Dakota Department of Public Safety to help police the annual Pow Wow in August. LaPlante sees cooperation like this as a win for the public and a win for Tribes concerned about maintaining sovereignty.

"I don't think those types of agreements necessarily infringe on a Tribe's sovereignty, because again, those agreements like the agreement we entered into with the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe there was no diminishment or relinquishment or subjugation of any sort of Tribal sovereignty or authority on the Reservation," said LaPlante.

The Commission has a 10-year goal for implementing its recommendations, a date that will mark 100 years since Native Americans were given the right to vote.

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