Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Ex parte Crow Dog case brief summary

Ex parte Crow Dog,
 109 U.S. 556 (1883),


This was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that a federal court did not have jurisdiction to try Crow Dog, a Native American (Indian) who killed another Indian on the reservation when the offense had been tried by the tribal council. In a conflict between two members of the same tribe, one killed the other while on reservation land. The tribe handled it according to Sioux tradition, and Crow Dog paid restitution. The United States government then tried Crow Dog for murder, and he was sentenced to hang.

On his appeal to the Supreme Court, the court held that I x I crime was exclusively within tribal jurisdiction, b/c it was specifically exempted from the ICCA. Unless Congress authorized it, the courts had no jurisdiction to try the case. 

Crow Dog murdered Spotted Tail on Reservation. Crow Dog’s family pays restitution, per tradition, to Spotted Tail’s family. Federal court convicted Crow Dog of murder and SCOTUS reversed.
1.      Self-governance of Indians required.
2.      Indians can’t understand superior laws of US.
3.      Reaction: Major Crimes Act of 1885
a.      Regulated seven serious crimes under federal law
b.      US demands pushing law into “lawless” Indian Country
c.       First time US acts unilaterally with regard to Indians

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