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The impact of drug trafficking on American Indian reservations with international boundaries.

American Indians in the United States who reside within close proximity to the US-Mexico and US-Canada borders are directly and indirectly affected by activity associated with drug trafficking. Evidence suggests that rates of border violations related to drug trafficking are increasing in these areas and that rates of associated violence and injury may also be on the rise. This article has four main objectives. The first is to document the crisis of violence and injury occurring on American Indian reservations as a result of drug and human trafficking across international borders. The second objective is to highlight challenges that obscure attempts to address this problem. Third, a review of current initiatives to resolve these challenges is provided. Finally, this article discusses potential solutions to these challenges via political reform, resource allocation, and other tactics addressing increased drug-trafficking activity.

To achieve these objectives, two federally recognized American Indian tribes were selected to conduct an in-depth examination of the problem: the Saint Regis Mohawk and Tohono O'odham Nations. These tribes were chosen due to their close proximity to the US-Mexico and US-Canada borders, as well as their strong cultural affinity with relatives living immediately adjacent to the border. The Saint Regis Mohawk Nation shares approximately twenty miles of land with the Canadian border, while the Tohono O'odham Nation shares approximately seventy-five miles with the Mexican border. Both areas are recognized as drug conduits, a result of multiple factors; consequently, these areas are increasingly impacted by violence and injury.


Literature Review

Beginning in May 2011, a literature review was initiated using online sources, including Google, Google Scholar, Pubmed, Web of Knowledge, Bureau of Indian Affairs (bia),, the official websites of the Tohono Oodham and Saint Regis Mohawk Nations, the US Department of Justice, the Native American Rights Fund, the National Congress of American Indians, High Country News, the New York Times, the Arizona Daily Star, the Watertown Daily Times,,, and Tillers Guide to Indian Country. Key search terms used to identify multiple types of literature included Tohono Oodham Nation, Saint Regis Mohawk Nation, drug trafficking on Indian reservations, drug trafficking, illegal immigration, Public Law 93-638, congressional bills related to drug trafficking, Arizona drug trafficking, New York drug trafficking, Public Law 280, violence and drugs, and violence on Indian reservations.

Contact via phone and email was also made with a Mr. David Selden, the library director from the National Indian Law Library, who sent via email multiple articles, scanned book pages, and court cases related to this topic. The news articles, government reports, court cases, and other editorials that were identified through this process were read thoroughly for relevancy. Those sources containing pertinent information were included in this article.

Descriptive Statistics

Data related to violent and property crimes, violent deaths, injuries, socioeconomic status, and demographic information were collected about the two relevant tribes and the states and counties within which they reside from the Center for Disease Controls "Web-Based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (wisqars)," the US Census Bureau, the US Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations "Uniform Crime Report (ucr)."


A brief questionnaire was developed for the police department of each reservation to obtain information about the policing practices of each tribe. This survey was deemed exempt from IRB review by the Emory IRB because it did not qualify as human subjects research. The questionnaire focused on obtaining public information related to financial and physical resources used by the tribal police departments; the impact of drug and human trafficking on the reservation; the cultural relationships tribes maintain with the bordering country; and data collection initiatives carried out by each of the departments. The questionnaire was administered to the highest-ranking individual in the department willing to participate and qualified to answer the questions, which included Lieutenant Charles Hangartner from the Tohono O'odham Tribal Police Department and Police Chief Andrew Thomas from the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Police.


Drug Trafficking on Reservations

The distribution and use of illegal narcotics has historically been a prevailing concern among the US general public, with local laws related to the issue enacted as early as the 1840s. It was not until the initiation of the "War on Drugs" by President Richard Nixon in 1971, however, that this topic became a central theme in political arenas. Since this era, numerous laws have been enacted in an attempt to combat this problem. In spite of the implementation of more stringent laws and regulations geared toward reducing the pervasiveness of drugs since the 1970s, the distribution and use of illegal narcotics continues to be widespread throughout the United States and, in some cases, has shown significant increases.

This escalation is particularly evident on reservations such as those of the Tohono O'odham and Saint Regis Mohawk Nations. According to a report released by the US Department of Justice, both Mexican and Asian drug-trafficking organizations (DTOS) frequently exploit reservations along the US-Mexico and US-Canada borders as arrival and/or transit zones for illegal drugs destined for markets throughout the United States. (1) Drugs are brought in via a variety of means, and Native American criminal groups are often recruited to retrieve and transport the goods on the US side of the reservations.

In 2010, the Tohono O'odham Nation was designated as a part of the Arizona High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) by the US Department of Justice. This region encompasses the western and south ern counties of Cochise, La Paz, Maricopa, Mohave, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, and Yuma, including the entire US-Mexico border in Arizona. The area is considered to be a major arrival zone for large quantities of marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin entering the United States from Mexico. In 2009, 42 percent of all marijuana seizures occurring along the US-Mexico border took place in this region, with the Tohono O'odham reservation serving as the primary entry point. (2) Another report estimated that 5-10 percent of all marijuana produced in Mexico is transported through this reservation, which accounts for less than 4 percent of the entire US-Mexico border. (3)

Increased border enforcement efforts along many parts of the US-Mexico border that began in the 1990s and intensified after the September 11 terrorist attacks have forced drug and human smugglers to use more remote areas like the Tohono O'odham reservation. (4) Five informal border crossings have existed for decades along the Tohono O'odham Nation's seventy-five-mile international border. Officially, only tribal members are permitted to pass through these entry points, and the biggest obstacle to crossing these locations used to be steel cattle guards and barbed-wire fencing. Due to a lack of enforcement and extensive desert terrain along these areas, however, smugglers began using these points to gain easy access into the United States via stolen vehicles. As a result, tribal officers were forced to close some of the entry points. (5) Additionally, the border has been enhanced with metal post and Normandy-style barriers (surface mountings constructed with high-strength tubular and structural steel components) in an attempt to stop trucks carrying illegal drugs headed for urban areas. (6) Other means of transporting drugs across the border include backpackers, couriers on horseback, and airplanes. (7)

Because of the reservation's proximity to the border, wholesale quantities of drugs are often seized throughout the land of the Tohono O'odham Nation, and these quantities have increased dramatically in the past decade. During fiscal year 2001, the Tohono O'odham Police Department seized 45,000 pounds of illegal narcotics; this number increased to 65,000 pounds in 2002. (8) This pattern of escalation has shown no signs of deterioration. In 2008, a total of 201,000 pounds of marijuana alone were seized on the reservation by law enforcement; in 2009, this amount increased further to 319,000 pounds of marijuana. (9)

Even more alarming than the increase in the quantity of drugs seized is the increase in tribal member involvement with the smuggling process. According to a statement made by Sgt. David Cray, a nineteen-year veteran of the Tohono O'odham Police Department's antidrug unit, the percentage of drug smugglers arrested on the reservation who are tribal members has substantially increased in the last two decades. In the first half of 2009, twenty-nine of the forty-five arrests related to drug smuggling made by tribal officers were of tribal members. (10) One of the primary reasons tribal members are recruited to assist with trafficking is because law enforcement officials must have a reasonable suspicion to stop tribal members, whereas nontribal persons driving on the reservation's restricted areas are not held to this standard.

The Saint Regis Mohawk Nation of New York is experiencing a similar predicament. According to reports, Asian DTOS exploit the reservation and its tribal members by smuggling marijuana, mdma, and cocaine across the Canadian border daily. The National Drug Threat Assessment 2010 estimates that as much as 20 percent of all high-potency marijuana grown in Canada each year is smuggled through the reservation. Each week, multiple tons of illegal narcotics pass through the reservation, an area that accounts for less than 1 percent of the US-Canada border. (11) According to Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Police Chief Andrew Thomas, incidents related to border security occur daily, and a high percentage of these violations relate to illegal narcotics. (12)

Unless significant strides are made in the realm of policy, it is unlikely that the circumstances on the Tohono O'odham or Saint Regis Mohawk reservations will improve. Until these changes occur, drug trafficking will continue to place a significant financial and public health burden on tribal entities and threaten the security of the United States.

Violence and Injury

Injury can be defined as damage or harm to the body resulting in impairment or destruction of health and may be unintentional or intentional (violence) in nature. (13) In the United States, the leading cause of death among persons age one to forty-four is injury. (14) Despite evidence depicting injury and violence as predictable and largely preventable, the topic is often neglected as a public health concern in the United States and across the globe. (15)

Not surprisingly, American Indians are also heavily impacted by this issue. Reservations throughout the United States are plagued by a "public safety crisis," experiencing staggering rates of homicide, juvenile crime, gang activity, child abuse, and substance abuse. (16) Compared to other racial/ethnic groups, American Indians experience higher rates of violent crime. (17) For example, between 1992 and 2002, American Indians experienced approximately 100 violent crimes for every 1,000 persons age twelve and over, compared to 41 per 1,000 persons among whites and 50 per 1,000 persons among blacks.

Although the trend for the overall US population has shown a general decrease in violent crime rates between 1981 (758.2 per 100,000) and 2010 (403.6 per 100,000), some tribes have seen increases. (18) Between 1997 and 2000, the number of charges filed against American Indians for violent crimes increased by 27 percent. It is also noteworthy that in 2000, 75 percent of the investigations by the US Attorneys Office involved violent crimes in Indian Country. (19) Furthermore, these figures are most likely underestimated. The Executive Committee on Indian Country Law Enforcement Improvements acknowledged concerns that "available statistics [related to violent crime] understate the magnitude of the problem in many areas of Indian Country." (20)

In Arizona, the rates of violence and injury for American Indians surpass those of other racial/ethnic groups. According to the Arizona Injury Prevention Plan, American Indians maintained the highest mortality rates as a result of injuries in 2004 and the highest age-adjusted suicide rate (17 per 100,000). American Indians also experience the second highest age-adjusted homicide rate relative to other racial/ethnic groups. (21) The rate of deaths attributable to a violently sustained injury is also higher for American Indians (33.08 per 100,000) than for all other races (9.65 per 100,000 among Asian/Pacific Islanders to 24.16 per 100,000 for whites) in Arizona (table 1). In fact, of the top five leading causes of death for American Indians in Arizona, three are contributable to various forms of homicide (table 2). (22) Lastly, research has shown that American Indian/Alaska Native women are 34 percent more likely to report being raped than any other ethnic and racial group. (23)

Although statistics are not available, it is highly likely that the Tohono O'odham Nation's proximity to the Mexican border and its involvement in drug trafficking contribute to the high rates of violent deaths and injuries sustained by Native Americans in Arizona. According to the Indian Country Drug Threat Assessment, tribal law enforcement officials across the nation consistently report that most violent, personal (i.e., threats and intimidations), and property crimes on reservations relate to drug trafficking, drug abuse, and gang activity. Moreover, these risky behaviors often lead to other indirect consequences such as accidental deaths, injuries, suicide, domestic violence and sexual abuse. Tribal law enforcement officials have also seen a rise in the use of weapons by gang members and drug traffickers for personal protection and the commission of crimes. A wide variety of weapons has been seized from drug traffickers, gang members, and tribal members involved in criminal activity on reservations, including handguns, AK-47S, rifles, sawed-off shotguns, impact weapons (bats, beer bottles, handmade clubs, pipes, and razors), and knives. (24)

Also in Arizona, criminal groups called "border bandits" utilize violence to carry out armed assaults on drug smugglers. An increase in this type of activity has been found on the Tohono O'odham reservation. These "rip-off crews" often dress in dark clothing and police-style raid gear to appear to others as law enforcement agents. (25) These criminal groups have existed for decades and also frequently target vulnerable men, women, and children crossing the border illegally. In recent years, however, the groups have become more violent because Mexican drug-trafficking organizations use these bajadores to patrol their routes and ensure that competitors do not utilize their corridors. (26)

Along the entire Arizona-Mexico border, violence directed at law enforcement has also been on the rise. Border personnel have experienced vehicular and physical assaults and gunfire. This increase is attributed to heightened counterdrug operations and is an attempt to deter or divert agents from seizing illicit drugs. (27) The violence directed at law enforcement also includes incursions by Mexican military personnel in support of drug smugglers. For example, on the Tohono O'odham reservation in 2002, marijuana smugglers attacked four US Customs officers, wounding one of them. Furthermore, police efforts aimed at curtailing drug smuggling endanger the lives of tribal citizens. High-speed police pursuits of smugglers often enter tribal villages and communities. (28) In 2010, one eighteen-year-old youth was reported being hit and killed by two Border Patrol trucks; another man was beaten, arrested, and detained by Border Patrol agents with no explanation while he was waiting for his daughter at a school bus stop. (29)

The levels of violence observed among American Indians in New York and along the New York-Canada border are not as acute as those found in Arizona and along the Arizona-Mexico border. Within the state of New York, the rate of deaths attributable to a violently sustained injury is lower for American Indians (3.44 per 100,000) than for other racial/ethnic groups (7.45 per 100,000 among Asian/Pacific Islanders to 18.73 Per 100,000 for blacks; table 3). Yet, four of the five leading causes of death for American Indians in New York represent some form of homicide, whereas only two of the five leading causes of death represent a form of homicide for other racial/ethnic groups (table 4). (30) The dramatic differences between the environments faced by the two tribes may be attributed in part to the differing governmental relationship that the United States maintains with Canada and Mexico. Due to the ever-increasing quantities of drugs crossing the Canadian border into the United States, however, it is not prudent to assume that the current state will be maintained in the future.

Other Consequences

In addition to impacting the physical well-being of tribal members, drug trafficking on the Tohono O'odham and Saint Regis Mohawk reservations has other consequences. For many Tohono O'odham tribal members, the reservation has become what appears to be a "militarized zone." Many residents live in fear not only of smugglers and illegal aliens but also of law enforcement officials. (31) Illegal aliens and smugglers plague tribal members for supplies and assistance. Homes are constantly broken into, and items such as clothes, food, vehicles, cell phones, electronics, and, increasingly, bicycles (which allow immigrants to cross the desert more quickly than hiking) are being stolen. (32) Border Patrol and other law enforcement officials routinely pull over tribal members and frequently subject them to humiliating searches. (33) Tribal officials and traditionalists feel that abuse of the Native population is increasing. Border Patrol agents have held tribal members at gunpoint and sometimes run drivers off the road. (34) Some tribal members also see the presence of the federal government as an oppressive federal occupation. Federal agents often inhabit remote parts of the reservation for weeks at a time and restrict access to the United States and Mexico for members living on both sides of the border. (35)

Drug smuggling has also taken a heavy toll on the ecosystem of Tohono Oodham lands. Thousands of vehicles drive across the fragile desert of the reservation annually. In 2005 alone, more than 1,400 wrecked and abandoned vehicles were towed off the reservation. Thousands of bicycles, tons of clothing, and other garbage are abandoned annually. Increased enforcement efforts by Border Patrol and, recently, the National Guard have also enhanced the destruction. Some tribal members say it will take decades to repair the damage. (36)

Drug trafficking has impacted nearly every member of the Tohono Oodham Nation. Many families have members who have been jailed for involvement in smuggling operations, and cases have been prosecuted at the state and federal levels. (37) In some instances, both parents have been arrested, leaving grandparents to care for children. (38) The psychological burden this type of environment places upon individuals, coupled with the constant sense of fear, is immeasurable. It is not surprising that rates of violence, substance abuse, and suicide surpass national levels. According to the current tribal chief of police, Andrew Thomas, the Saint Regis Mohawk Nation is also plagued by many similar circumstances. (39)


In order to create effective policies and implement successful interventions that will ameliorate the causes and consequences of drug trafficking on the Tohono O'odham and Saint Regis Mohawk reservations, it is important to understand the unique challenges that have played a key role in the development of current structural, cultural, and social circumstances in these areas. In the next section, we review the following challenges: (1) geography; (2) unique jurisdictional circumstances; (3) limited resources and funding from federal agencies; (4) low socioeconomic conditions; and (5) tribal connections to border countries.


One challenge faced by both the Saint Regis Mohawk and Tohono O'odham Nations is the vast and distinct territory that encompasses each of the tribal police department's patrol jurisdictions. Law enforcement agencies are forced to cover thousands of acres of land with extremely limited resources and staffing. Although both of the tribes experience this problem to a certain degree, it is much more prevalent for the Tohono O'odham Nation.

In southern Arizona, the Tohono O'odham reservation comprises approximately 2,846,409.23 acres, an area equivalent to the state of Connecticut. The reservation consists of four noncontiguous parcels of land that stretch across five Arizona counties. The "main" reservation and tribal headquarters is the Sells parcel, which was established by an executive order in 1917. The reservation boundary extends along seventy-five miles of the US-Mexico border and northward through the Sonoran Desert for another ninety miles. It is also the second largest reservation in the United States. The topography of the land varies from wide desert valleys and plains to broad mountains. (40) The Baboquivari Mountain Range, which spans the eastern side of the reservation boundary, severely limits lateral movement and interrupts radio transmissions. This is something traffickers are well aware of and exploit frequently. (41) The reservation is also in close proximity to two of Arizona's major cities, Phoenix and Tucson. As is evident, the sheer vastness of the reservation provides many opportunities for smugglers to quickly circulate their product into the United States.

Unlike the Tohono O'odham reservation, the Saint Regis Mohawk reservation is not considered a federal territory but was originally granted to the tribe by the state of New York in 1796 through a treaty signed by the Seven Nations Confederacy. (42) The reservation spans the border between the United States and Canada for approximately twenty miles along the Saint Lawrence Seaway, including Saint Lawrence and Franklin Counties in New York and the Quebec and Ontario Provinces in Canada. (43) The reservation encompasses 14,760 acres (23.1 square miles) in the United States and 7,400 acres (11.6 square miles) in Canada.

According to the Franklin County district attorney, Derek P. Champagne, the reservation is a prime entry point for drug smugglers. (44) It is less than two hours from Montreal, and New York City can be quickly accessed via Interstate 87, allowing for the rapid transport of drugs into the United States. (45) Drug traffickers take advantage of a peninsula on the reservation formed by a bend in the Saint Lawrence River. In the winter, drugs are transported via snowmobiles and cars across the ice; in the warmer months, contraband is offloaded via boats. (46)

Unique Jurisdictional Circumstances

The Tohono O'odham and Saint Regis Mohawk Nations (as well as many other federally recognized tribes) find themselves in a uniquely complex political milieu that is perhaps found nowhere else in the world. Consequently, this environment contributes to each tribal nations inability to effectively enforce its own laws and regulations.

The origins of the current political system stem from the fact that tribal nations preexisted the United States and are therefore inherently sovereign entities. Tribal sovereignty is defined as self-rule and ensures that any decision made with regard to tribal citizens and property cannot be made without their participation and consent. Today this sovereignty has been greatly eroded through the signing of treaties, acts of Congress, executive orders, and court decisions limiting tribal communities' ability to express their identity and values when defining issues of legality. (47) Sovereignty does, however, still exist in a limited capacity and shapes the decisions and actions not only of tribal nations but also of their local, state, and federal counterparts. (48)

The relationship between the federal government and tribal nations can be broadly described as a "mixture of legal duties, moral obligations, understandings and expectancies that have arisen from the entire course of dealing between the [two nations]." At a very narrow level, the relationship can be defined as that of a trustee (the United States) and a beneficiary. The US Constitution does not explicitly delineate a relationship between the tribal nations and the federal government, but it does grant powers to the US government that have been used to sanction its role as a trustee. Of these powers, the most critical have been identified as the congressional ability to regulate commerce (US Const, art. I, [section] 8, cl. 3) and the presidential power to make treaties (art. II, [section] 2, cl. 2) with Indian tribes. (49)

Tribal nations also maintain relationships with the states in which they reside. Because the Constitution allocated plenary powers of Indian affairs to the US legislative branch, states have no authority over tribal governments unless expressly authorized by Congress. As a result, a government-to-government relationship has arisen between states and the tribal nations within their boundaries. Because of this system, tribal governments may draft their own constitutions and possess the authority to regulate activities occurring on their land; tribal governments may enact stricter or more lenient laws than those of the surrounding state(s) in which they reside. Tribes, however, often collaborate with states on issues that mutually impact both entities; one example of this collaboration includes law enforcement. (50)

When examining jurisdictional challenges from the perspective of law enforcement, this political system becomes even more complex. Tribal nations across the United States utilize multiple systems for enforcing law on their land. Some tribal governments rely solely on the BIA to manage law enforcement activities on the reservation through the Office of Justice Services. Following the passage of Public Law 83-280, the federal government ceded law enforcement authority for many tribal nations to certain states (18 use [section] 1162). Other tribal nations, like the Tohono O'odham and Saint Regis Mohawk, utilize their sovereignty status to develop and employ their own law enforcement systems. Through Public Law 93-638, or the Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975, these tribal governments obtain funds from and contract with the BIA to develop their own law enforcement programs.

Within the context of the criminal justice system, tribal governments have jurisdiction over Indian-on-Indian and Indian-on-nonmember Indian-minor crimes within the limits of the reservation. (51) Additionally, the Major Crimes Act, passed in 1885, gives concurrent jurisdiction to the federal government for certain major felonies committed by Indians on tribal land, such as murder, rape, assault, and burglary. (52) The tribal government's ability to sentence its members is also limited. Any tribal member jailed for more than a year has the right to invoke a habeas corpus remedy in federal courts.

Tribal governments have even less criminal authority over non-Indians. (53) Non-Indians on reservation lands suspected of criminal activity may be detained but not arrested. These individuals must be turned over to local or state authorities within a specified time frame. If these authorities do not arrive within the allotted time, tribal officials are forced to release suspects or face a possible suit for false imprisonment. The authority of tribal officers over non-Indians on reservation land has been equated to that of a citizens arrest power.

When tribal authorities leave reservation boundaries, their authority is also limited. They are forced to comply with all traffic regulations and restrictions on vehicle markings. Consequently, tribal officers cannot pursue non-Indians off reservation lands. Also, because many reservations (including the Tohono O'odham Nation) have noncontiguous parcels of land, officers are often forced to utilize nonreservation roads to access other parts of the reservation. In emergency situations, a tribal officers lack of authority outside of reservation lands may inhibit that officers ability to respond in a timely manner. In some cases, however, tribal police have been able to develop relationships with surrounding law enforcement officials, enabling them to circumvent these challenges while simultaneously expanding their jurisdictional authority. The Hoopa Valley Tribe of California, for example, entered into a cross-deputization agreement with the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department; this agreement allows tribal officers to enforce state law and local law enforcement officials to enforce tribal law under certain conditions. (54)

The restrictions placed on tribal law enforcement authority hinder the ability of tribal officials on both the Tohono O'odham and Saint Regis Mohawk reservations to effectively reduce drug trafficking and protect international boundaries. In 2010, a police officer of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe working in conjunction with the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service (the tribe's Canadian counterpart) observed an individual enter and exit an unmarked, unguarded border crossing on the reservation into Canada. After reentering the United States, the individual was followed and eventually stopped by tribal police officers in an area not considered a part of the Saint Regis Mohawk territory. After conducting what was then thought to be a legal search, officers uncovered over one hundred pounds of marijuana in the trunk of the defendants car. In a district court hearing, however, the officers who stopped the vehicle were found to be outside of their jurisdictional authority. This was due to multiple factors, including the fact that the stop occurred outside of the reservation boundaries. As a result, the case was eventually dismissed due to a suppression of evidence. (55)

As is evident, the complexities of jurisdictional circumstances make tribal law officers' efforts to reduce drug trafficking extremely inhibited. Unfortunately, incidents like the one described above occur frequently. An overall lack of communication and trust, compounded by competition for resources between local, state, and tribal agencies, amplifies the problem. Until resolutions are developed and positive interactions between these distinct agencies increase, drug traffickers will continue to identify and take advantage of weaknesses in the system.

Limited Resources

Another major challenge impeding the Tohono O'odham and Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Police Departments from ably ensuring the safety of their members is the general lack of funding, personnel, access to technology, and a variety of other resources. As a result, tribal officials in both nations are increasingly overwhelmed by border enforcement responsibilities.

The BIA, the US Department of Justice, private and public grant programs, and tribes themselves primarily contribute resources to the operation of tribal police departments. On the Saint Regis Mohawk reservation, roughly 75 percent of the tribal police department's 3.4-million-dollar budget in 2010 came directly from private tribal enterprises such as casinos. Of the other 25 percent, approximately $800,000 came from the BIA, while contracts and grants with various other federal agencies made up the remaining few thousand dollars. (56)

Despite increasing cost associated with drug trafficking and border enforcement, a reduction in funding sources from outside the tribe has historically occurred. The US Department of Justices spending on Native American criminal justice programs declined approximately 15 percent between 2003 and 2004. Office of Justice Programs for police department spending on reservations is also estimated to be only 80 percent of spending in comparable rural areas. (57) Additionally, in April 2012, the US House and Senate Appropriations Committees approved fiscal year 2013 bills that governed funding levels for assistance grants for state, local, and tribal law enforcement. Although the actions are still in the early stages of the appropriations process, the approved amounts represent substantial reductions in grants used to fund activities by tribal law enforcement agencies. (58)

Tribal police department resources are also increasingly being diverted away from the protection of tribal members and toward ensuring the security of our nation's borders. The Tohono O'odham Tribal Police Department estimates that an average of $3 million is spent annually on immigrant and drug-smuggling incidents. This figure represents more than half of the department's annual budget. (59) Although the exact figure was unknown, Police Chief Thomas of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe estimates that a significant portion of their funds are also allocated toward border enforcement. (60)

Staffing of officers on reservations is only at about 75-80 percent of the levels in comparable US rural areas and 20-25 percent of the levels attained in comparable US high-crime-rate areas. (61) The Tohono O'odham Tribal Police Department currently maintains ninety officers who are responsible for nearly forty-five hundred square miles of land and approximately twenty-eight thousand members. (62) On the Tohono O'odham reservation, it can take an officer up to two hours to respond to a call for assistance. (63) Any incidents along the border related to drug and human trafficking also divert officer time and resources and prevent "the police department from completing its mission to provide community policing for the Tohono O'odham communities." (64) The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Police Department currently employs twenty-six law enforcement officials who are responsible for ensuring the safety of approximately twenty-three square miles of land and over nine thousand tribal members. (65) Saint Regis Mohawk law enforcement officers also dedicate a significant portion of their time to border security issues. According to Andrew Thomas, the current police chief, three of the five investigators currently on staff work full time on cases solely related to the trafficking of illegal narcotics. (66)

Irrespective of funding constraints, recruitment of additional law enforcement officials is extremely difficult. Ideally, tribal police officers would be members of the tribe that they serve. These individuals are desired most because they are familiar with and understand the cultures and customs of the people with whom they work daily. However, it can be difficult to find interested candidates who meet the educational criteria and skill level necessary to qualify for these positions. Additionally, many tribal members have a criminal record that can prevent them from becoming officers. Recruitment and retention of personnel outside of the tribe also proves to be a challenge. Both of the reservations (especially the Tohono O'odham) are located in remote regions of the country. Moreover, an overwhelming sense of poverty and a general lack of quality housing deter qualified candidates from seeking employment in these areas.

Because so much of tribal law enforcement funds is diverted toward securing the nation's borders, this places enormous constraints on other aspects of the budget. Often, tribal police departments lack the same equipment and technology used by their state and federal counterparts, such as background check databases. Additionally, training of law enforcement officers is frequently overlooked when funds are progressively allocated to border security. Furthermore, areas like education, health care, and the building of other necessary infrastructure that supports violence and injury prevention efforts for tribal members are also increasingly neglected as more and more tribal funds are distributed to law enforcement activities.

Low Socioeconomic Status

Perhaps one of the most significant factors contributing to the drug-trafficking crises on the Tohono O'odham and Saint Regis Mohawk Nations is the elevated degree of poverty on both reservations. According to the 2009 National Drug Threat Assessment released by the Department of Justice, "high levels of unemployment and poverty ... contribute to Native American communities' susceptibility to substance abuse and exploitation by drug traffickers. As a result, substance abuse by Native Americans is comparatively higher than abuse by any other population group." (67) This reality is evident on the Tohono O'odham reservation. The percent of families below poverty on the reservation hovers around 40.5 percent, which is more than four times that of the state of Arizona (9.9 percent) and the surrounding counties of Pima (10.5 percent), Pinal (12.1 percent), and Maricopa (8.0 percent; table 5). According to David Ortega, a retired Marine and tribal member, smuggling can garner a destitute O'odham a quick $3,000 to $5,000 for hustling drugs and/or immigrants just one time and is often the best job opportunity available to many tribal members. (68) The primary sources of employment for tribal members are the Tohono O'odham casinos. (69) The government and commercial center of the reservation, Sells, Arizona, offers little more than a grocery store, a gas station, a bank, and a few small shops. (70) These minimal job opportunities translate into a 9.9 percent unemployment rate and per capita income of $6,998 (table 5). This is a stark difference from the state and surrounding counties, which have an average unemployment rate of 3.5 percent and an average per capita income of $19,548.

On the Saint Regis Mohawk reservation the percent of families living below the federal poverty level is also much higher (19.4 percent) compared to the percent of families living in poverty in the state of New York (11.5 percent) and in the surrounding counties of Saint Lawrence (12.3 percent) and Franklin (10.1 percent; table 6). (71) The economy is also largely based around the service industry and tourism, primarily gambling. (72) Accordingly, the reservations per capita income is approximately $12,017, which is just over half that of the state of New York ($23,389; table 6).

The harsh economic circumstances endured on both reservations contribute to the high level of poverty and increased likelihood that tribal members will become involved in the drug trade or become users themselves. Any strategy developed to address problems on these reservations must also account for these economic circumstances.

Tribal Connections to Border Countries

Prior to the colonization of North America, restricted borders were nonexistent. Indigenous nations across present-day Mexico, the United States, and Canada traveled freely without the inhibition of a "border." Patterns of living were established that are more than a thousand years old. Beginning somewhere around the 1800s, however, tribal nations across the United States began to heavily feel the devastating impacts of invisible boundaries. The drawing of country lines and reservation boundaries slowly began to deteriorate ancient cultures. (73) Despite the passage of more than a hundred years and the signing into law of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, the confinement of many tribal nations has simply taken on a new form. The Tohono O'odham Nation and to a lesser extent the Saint Regis Mohawk Nation represent a modern example of what many tribal members refer to today as "cultural genocide." (74)

The Tohono O'odham Nation was never informed of the acquisition of their original land base by the United States in the Gadsden Purchase of 1854. At the time, the border did not pose a significant threat to tribal members due to minimal enforcement. (75) In the mid-1980s, however, border security was tightened in an effort to stop illegal immigration and drug trafficking. Barbed-wire fences, barriers, and increased enforcement and harassment by border officials created a barrier for the free travel of tribal members on their own land. (76) These restrictions have had a harmful impact on the health, culture, and economy of the Tohono O'odham people. (77)

Under the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) of 1934, the Tohono O'odham Nation formed a tribal government and as a part of federal recognition adopted a constitution that defined tribal membership based on blood, not country of citizenship. Because the tribe maintains land in both the United States and Mexico, tribal membership includes Mexican members who are not US citizens. [78] Mexico does not formally recognize traditional tribal territory, nor does it provide special services to tribal members. As a result, several thousand Mexican tribal members frequently pass into the United States to gain access to health care, education, and social services. (79) Border restrictions, however, inhibit this type of travel.

One of the primary issues inhibiting border crossing is problems with legal documentation. Until the 1980s, many tribal members were born at home and lacked birth certificates. Traditionally, Tohono Oodham elders remembered births and passed them on orally. This lack of a birth record makes it extremely difficult to obtain a passport. Additionally, many members in Mexico live isolated farming existences, which do not produce documents like pay stubs, bank statements, and rent receipts. These credentials are often required by US officials to ensure that a visitor has no intention of staying in the country. The Immigration and Naturalization Service also maintains inconsistent policies when engaging with Tohono Oodham members, adding to the disarray. (80)

Because of border restrictions, tribal members are prevented from visiting sacred sites in the United States and Mexico to conduct ceremonies, which hinders the practice of religion. Restrictions also prevent tribal members from visiting family members on either side of the border, destroying kinship ties and traditional practices necessary for preserving their culture and maintaining their ancestral language. (81) Tribal members also collect vital resources such as firewood, saguaro fruits, herbs, and other foods found across tribal desert lands. A general sense of fear and tightened border security have inhibited these practices. Reports have been issued on elderly tribal members being beaten and robbed by smugglers and illegal aliens. (82) US Border Patrol agents have also detained and deported members of the Tohono Oodham Nation simply for traveling on their own land. Additionally, US Customs frequently confiscate religious items like the feathers of common birds, pine needles, sweetgrass, and other raw materials essential to the function of the tribal nations economy and religious practices. (83) Among the Saint Regis Mohawk Nation, similar problems exist. The Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation of 1794 (or the Jay treaty) established the right of free passage, trade, and commerce across the US-Canada border to Indians residing on either side. Although provisions of this treaty are interpreted differently by Canada and the United States and have been slowly restricted throughout history, some components still remain. (84) According to the current tribal chief of police, Andrew Thomas, tribal members from both sides of the reservation cross the US-Canada border daily to seek tribal services, purchase discounted items, and visit family members. (85) Although the environment in this area is less ruthless, tribal members do experience some challenges similar to those of the Tohono Oodham, such as issues surrounding documentation. With the ever-increasing drug problem and tightening of national borders, it is likely that the situation will only deteriorate.

The Tohono Oodham and Saint Regis Mohawk Nations are participating in their normal traditional and cultural practices. For these tribes, the Gadsden Purchase, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and the Jay treaty recognize the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain their land, culture, and religion, regardless of political borders. As US citizens, members of both nations maintain the basic constitutional freedom of travel protected by the Fifth Amendment. The US Supreme Court has held travel as a liberty interest that cannot be limited without due process. Additionally, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (from the United Nations) "affirms the right of persons belonging to 'ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities ... to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion [and] to use their own language.'" (86) Despite these constitutional and international rights, tribal members' ability to travel freely is being restricted: "The federal government and the border patrol have racialized the space surrounding the border [and] racial profiling ... has turned the region into a site of intense conflict over race, identity, citizenship, and the right to move freely." (87)


Despite the adverse conditions along both borders, efforts are being carried out to address challenges at each level of the issue. From an economic standpoint, the financial status of many tribes, including the Tohono O'odham and Saint Regis Mohawk Nations, has greatly improved over the last two decades. Casinos and private enterprise on both reservations employ tribal members and generate revenues that fund and support infrastructure such as hospitals, police departments, community and tribal colleges, cultural centers, and educational scholarships for tribal members. On the Tohono Oodham reservation, a recent water rights settlement with the federal government has increased the tribe's access to water diverted from the Colorado River. Some water will be leased by the tribe to increase its revenue, while the remainder will be used to boost agricultural production. (88) These increases in resources will work to reduce the poverty that is rampant on the reservations by providing employment and educational opportunities and will indirectly reduce the need for tribal member involvement in illicit activity like drug trafficking.

Positive interaction between law enforcement officials and tribal members is also on the rise. On the Tohono O'odham reservation, tribal police officers have begun implementing community outreach initiatives. Some efforts involve conducting open forums where tribal members are able to openly discuss the drug-smuggling crisis. (89) The Border Patrol has also released a cultural sensitivity video to officers assigned to the reservation in an attempt to reduce tensions between federal agents and tribal members. The video highlights the many unique customs of the Tohono O'odham Nation, such as all-night wakes, which are often mistaken for drug operations due to the coming and going of vehicles. Border Patrol officers are also increasingly meeting with tribal members to develop simple solutions to improve law enforcement relations within the community. (90) In 2002, the Tohono O'odham also joined the Arizona Border Control Initiative, which has the goal of enhancing border surveillance of illegal activities. (91)

Agencies such as the National Native American Law Enforcement Association (NNALEA) work to "promote and foster mutual cooperation between American Indian Law Enforcement Officers/Agents/Personnel, their agencies, tribes, private industry and public." This organization accomplishes its goals by establishing networks, promoting a positive attitude toward law enforcement in American Indian communities, and offering training seminars and annual conferences in the field of law enforcement that identify and address current proficiency gaps.

From a tactical standpoint, many innovative methods are being deployed in an effort to reduce the amount and frequency of drug trafficking along the border and on reservations. One initiative includes a transition from barbed-wire fencing to vehicle barriers on the Tohono Oodham reservation. This has reduced border violations via ground transportation but has increased foot traffic. As a result, smugglers are forced to spend a longer period of time in the open and are more vulnerable to detection. Improved technology, such as infrared video cameras, able to detect heat from miles away, has also improved seizure opportunities. (92)

In the fall of 2006, the Department of Homeland Security awarded the Boeing Company a contract to construct a "virtual fence" that would include a series of eighteen hundred towers equipped with cameras, sensors, and computer links to monitor the US borders with both Mexico and Canada. In addition to the virtual fence, the Secure Fence Act of 2006 called for the construction of approximately seven hundred miles of steel walls, chain-link fences, and all-weather roads running adjacent to the US-Mexico border. Many Tohono O'odham tribal members, however, opposed the construction of this fence because it will likely increase the use of the reservation by traffickers and prevent the free travel of Oodham members. (93)

Since then, budgeting issues have delayed the full-scale construction of either fence. It also seems that portions of the erected fence have caused more harm than good, including increases in environmental degradation and illegal immigrant mortalities (due to the funneling of immigrants into more dangerous areas of the desert). (94) Future plans for the border fence are still uncertain. Increases in enforcement by the Border Patrol and the National Guard between 2006 and 2008 along the southern border, however, have seemed to reduce the frequency of border violations. In order to reduce the mortality rates of illegal immigrants, water stations are also being set up throughout the Tohono Oodham reservation to provide a source of hydration for the many people who spend days wandering through the desert. (95)

From a congressional standpoint, efforts have been made to address the larger scope of the issue; however, very few, if any, measures are specifically geared toward assisting either the Tohono Oodham or the Saint Regis Mohawk Nation. One of the most significant congressional pieces of legislation to date, the Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA), was signed into law in 2010. This act includes provisions to empower tribal law enforcement to prosecute and fight crime more effectively by increasing coordination between key stakeholders; emphasizing prevention; increasing tribal sentencing authority; enhancing officer recruitment, retention, and training efforts; and standardizing data collection and sharing, among many other objectives. (96) The TLOA, however, is not producing intended outcomes. Funding limitations, increased bureaucracy, and expanded federal authority are some of the unintended effects of this legislation. (97) On January 4, 2011, President Barack Obama also signed into law the Northern Border Counternarcotics Strategy Act, which requires the US Office of National Drug Control Policy to develop more effective methods for deploying US agents and equipment along the Canadian border, as well as better coordination of antidrug efforts with state and local law enforcement agencies. The provisions in this act are similar to provisions contained within legislation to address these issues along the US-Mexico border. (98) Programs like the Services-Training-Officers-Prosecutors (stop) Violence against Indian Women (VAIW) also ramp up law enforcement capabilities to combat specific areas of violence, such as violent crimes committed against Indian women.

Recent congressional bills related to US-Mexico border issues include hr 2124, the Southwest Cross-Border Violence Recognition Act of 2011. The goal of this bill is to accurately define "cross-border violence" in order to require the secretary of homeland security to develop measures to quantify cross-border violence data for reporting to Congress and other entities. Another bill, titled hr 1277, the Southern Borderlands Public Safety Communications Act, would authorize the secretary to provide grants to finance equipment and infrastructure to enhance the safety of persons living in rural areas along the US-Mexico border. (99)

These are just a few of the many initiatives debated in the congressional arena surrounding border security. Although these proposals may serve as a framework for possible solutions, initiatives geared directly toward the Tohono O'odham and Saint Regis Mohawk Nations are also necessary for immediate improvements to the current state of affairs on each of the reservations.


The onerous history of relations between tribal, federal, and state governments and the coinciding development and enforcement of laws surrounding tribal entities have yielded the current complex and highly antagonistic environment that exists today. Until greater attention is given to these issues and shifts in governmental policies occur, the negative circumstances faced by the Tohono O'odham and Saint Regis Mohawk Nations, as well as several other American Indian tribes in the United States, will continue to escalate.

Currently, limitations on tribal sovereignty serve as one of the most substantial barriers in tribal law enforcement's ability to carry out its duties to protect tribal members and resources. An examination of the results of increased tribal sovereignty in the past forty years provides reason to believe that further increases in sovereignty would improve the current conditions faced by these communities. Since the mid-1970s, shifts in federal policy toward increased tribal self-determination have progressively manifested as improvements in tribal judicial, economic, and social systems. These improvements may be attributed to the allocation of responsibilities to tribal providers who are more knowledgeable about tribal needs and more accountable to tribal communities than their federal counterparts. Grant programs like STOP VAIW, which encourages tribally developed strategies to reduce crimes against Indian women, have also shown substantial success, including increasing arrest rates and empowering tribal officials and women. (100) Additionally, because the federal government still possesses plenary power over Indian nations, there is significant incentive for tribal nations to support activity that is fair to all Native and non-Native people. (101) One specific example of how an increase in tribal sovereignty could address these challenges includes the expansion of tribal law enforcement jurisdictional authority through the continued use of policies such as cross-deputization agreements. Expanding the authority of tribal law enforcement will work to reduce and possibly prevent non-Indian criminal activity on reservations. This type of system is also typically less expensive than other options, such as security contracts in which tribal governments contract with public or private entities to provide additional security on tribal land. In cross-deputization agreements, all participants may undergo training that provides a comprehensive overview of federal, state, and tribal laws. Additionally, these agreements enable tribal, state, and county officials to utilize emergency equipment, such as firearms and vehicles, on and off reservation land. (102)

Furthermore, because the responsibility of protecting our nations borders falls on the shoulders of the US government and should not fall exclusively on two small Indian nations, it is also important for the federal government to maintain a presence along the border. According to the federal Indian trust responsibility, the United States "has charged itself with moral obligations of the highest responsibility and trust" toward Indian tribes (Seminole Nation v. United States, 1942). This doctrine is also a "legally enforceable fiduciary obligation on the part of the United States to protect tribal treaty rights, lands, assets, and resources, as well as a duty to carry out the mandates of federal law with respect to American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and villages." (103)

Given the federal governments responsibility to protect our nations borders and tribal lands and resources, it is crucial that the federal government should maintain a presence along the international borders within tribal land. This presence, however, should be limited to a specified radius where the most violent crimes tend to occur. (104) This would serve as a mechanism to reduce the current animosity between the tribal communities and federal agents, enhance the safety of tribal members on the Tohono O'odham and Saint Regis Mohawk reservations, and reduce the impact of trafficking on vital resources.

Given that it is extremely important for tribal, local, state, and federal governments to work together to improve the situation along the border, communication and cooperation are vital to the successful achievement of goals. By increasing formal collaborations with tribal members concerning issues related to the border, solutions can be developed that benefit all stakeholders. In this particular situation, increased utilization of tribal knowledge and experience will enhance the effectiveness of law enforcement efforts. Not only do tribal members know the land better than anyone, they also know the individuals involved and methods utilized in carrying out this intricate system of trafficking. Maintaining an environment of respect is crucial for the positive advancement of these interactions and may be achieved by implementing a compulsory training on cultural sensitivity issues for federal and state law enforcement agencies.

At the macrolevel, congressional involvement is also fundamental to inducing change. Legislative initiatives may involve increasing funding for education and employment opportunities on reservations, increasing sentences for drug traffickers who utilize Indian land (although this may disproportionately affect Native people), and reallocating enforcement resources to treat the demand for drugs as a public health problem. (105) It is also important to develop a fair and easily accessible method for tribal members in the United States, Mexico, and Canada to gain access to identification that is consistently accepted by all border enforcement agencies. One method of achieving this would be to provide US citizenship to all Tohono O'odham and Saint Regis Mohawk members regardless of what country they reside in and provide them with a realistic means for obtaining US passports or identification cards. Furthermore, it is crucial that policymakers eliminate the inequities in resource allocation between tribal, local, and state governments to increase the effectiveness of the enforcement of borders.

The crisis of drug and human trafficking within the Saint Regis Mohawk and Tohono O'odham Nations is not a matter to be taken lightly. Not only is it a threat to the security and culture of two unique populations, but it also poses a threat to the United States' homeland security. Each year tons of drugs and weapons are transported through these locations and distributed throughout the United States. These sites also represent an easily accessible entry point for terrorist groups. Allowing for the changes referenced above, tribal groups like the Tohono O'odham and Saint Regis Mohawk Nations can begin to build innovative and effective systems that incorporate their traditional beliefs and may even serve as a model for the rest of the nation. Achieving a balance between federal presence on the reservation, increased tribal authority over their land and activities, and equitable distribution of resources is fundamental to resolving unrest along the border.


(1.) US Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center, Indian Country Drug Threat Assessment (2008).

(2.) US Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center, Arizona High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (2010).

(3.) US Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center, National Drug Threat Assessment (2010).

(4.) Erik Eckholm, "War without Borders: In Drug War, Tribe Feels Invaded by Both Sides," New York Times, January 24, 2010,

(5.) John Dougherty, "One Nation, under Fire," High Country News, February 19, 2007,

(6.) Eckholm, "War without Borders."

(7.) US Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center, Indian Country Drug Threat Assessment (2008); Asa A. Revels, survey, October 20, 2011.

(8.) Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources, The Impact of the Drug Trade on Border Security and National Parks, 1st sess., March 10, 2003.

(9.) Eckholm, "War without Borders."

(10.) Brady McCombs, "Arizona Tohono O'odham Members Caught in Drug Smuggling Web" (2009),

(11.) US Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center, National Drug Threat Assessment (2010).

(12.) Asa A. Revels, survey, November 16, 2011.

(13.) Rollins School of Public Health; Emory University School of Medicine, "Emory Center for Injury Control,"

(14.) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Web-Based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (wisqars)" (2011).

(15.) Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability, Injuries and Violence: The Facts (Geneva: World Health Organization, 2010).

(16.) Kara Brown and Jonathan Mills, "Law Enforcement in Indian Country: The Struggle for a Solution,"

(17.) Kevin K. Washborne, "Federal Criminal Law and Tribal Self-Determination," North Carolina Law Review 84 (2006): 779-856.

(18.) US Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Uniform Crime Report,", Washborne, "Federal Criminal Law."

(19.) Steven W. Perry, American Indians and Crime, a BJS Statistical Profile, 1992-2002, US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2004.

(20.) Brown and Mills, "Law Enforcement in Indian Country."

(21.) Arizona Department of Health Services, Injury Surveillance and Prevention Plan for the State of Arizona (2006).

(22.) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Web-Based Injury Statistics."

(23.) Arizona Department of Health Services, Injury Surveillance and Prevention Plan for the State of Arizona (2006).

(24.) US Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center, Indian Country Drug Threat Assessment (2008).

(25.) US Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center, Arizona High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (2010).

(26.) Brady McCombs, "Aggression Escalating in Border Marauders," Arizona Daily Star, December 22, 2010.

(27.) US Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center, Arizona High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (2010).

(28.) Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources, The Impact of the Drug Trade.

(29.) Tom Boswell, "Caught in the Crossfire" (2010),

(30.) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Web-Based Injury Statistics."

(31.) Eckholm, "War without Borders."

(32.) Tim Johnson, "Border Indian Reservations Sources of Drug Smuggling," Seattle Times, June 26, 2010,

(33.) Dougherty, "One Nation, under Fire"; Eckholm, "War without Borders."

(34.) Dougherty, "One Nation, under Fire."

(35.) Eckholm, "War without Borders."

(36.) Dougherty, "One Nation, under Fire."

(37.) Dougherty, "One Nation, under Fire."

(38.) Eckholm, "War without Borders."

(39.) Revels, survey, September 2011.

(40.) Veronica E. Velarde Tiller, Tillers Guide to Indian Country (Albuquerque: Bow Arrow Publishing Company, 2005).

(41.) Dougherty, "One Nation, under Fire."

(42.) Tiller, Tiller's Guide.

(43.) Johnson, "Border Indian Reservations."

(44.) David Winters, "Law Targets Northern Border Drug Trade," Watertown Daily Times, January 23, 2011,

(45.) Johnson, "Border Indian Reservations."

(46.) Winters, "Law Targets."

(47.) Washborne, "Federal Criminal Law."

(48.) US Department of the Interior,

(49.) William C. Canby Jr., American Indian Law in a Nutshell, 5th ed. (Saint Paul mn: West Academic Publishing, 2009), 35.

(50.) US Department of the Interior,

(51.) Eileen M. Luna-Firebaugh, '"Att Hascu Am O 'I-oi? What Direction Should We Take? The Desert People's Approach to the Militarization of the Border," Washington University Journal of Law and Policy 19 (2005): 339-64; Brown and Mills, "Law Enforcement in Indian Country."

(52.) Brown and Mills, "Law Enforcement in Indian Country."

(53.) Joseph P. Kalt and Joseph William Singer, Myths and Realities of Tribal Sovereignty: The Law and Economics of Indian Self-Rule, Joint Occasional Papers on Native Affairs (JOPNA), no. 2004-03.

(54.) Brown and Mills, "Law Enforcement in Indian Country."

(55.) United States of America v. Eric C. Wilson, Defendant (2010).

(56.) Revels, survey, November 16, 2011.

(57.) Kalt and Singer, Myths and Realities.

(58.) Meredith Ward, "Law Enforcement Spending Cuts Continue into FY 2013," Police Chief: The Professional Voice of Law Enforcement 79, no. 6 (2012),

(59.) Dougherty, "One Nation, under Fire."

(60.) Revels, survey, November 16, 2011.

(61.) Kalt and Singer, Myths and Realities.

(62.) Revels, survey, November 16, 2011; official website of the Tohono O'odham Nation,

(63.) Johnson, "Border Indian Reservations."

(64.) Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources, The Impact of the Drug Trade.

(65.) Revels, survey, November 16, 2011; Tiller, Tiller's Guide.

(66.) Revels, survey, November 16, 2011.

(67.) US Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center, National Drug Threat Assessment (2009).

(68.) Dougherty, "One Nation, under Fire."

(69.) Tiller, Tiller's Guide.

(70.) Dougherty, "One Nation, under Fire."

(71.) US Department of Commerce, US Census Bureau,

(72.) Tiller, Tiller's Guide.

(73.) Eileen M. Luna-Firebaugh, "The Border Crossed Us: Border Crossing Issues of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas," Wicazo Sa Review 17, no. 1 (2002).

(74.) McCombs, "Arizona Tohono O'odham Members"; Luna-Firebaugh, "The Border Crossed Us."

(75.) Official website of the Tohono O'odham Nation; Luna-Firebaugh, "The Border Crossed Us."

(76.) University of Minnesota, Human Rights Center, "Indigenous Peoples' Human Rights Initiative,"

(77.) Luna-Firebaugh, "The Border Crossed Us."

(78.) University of Minnesota, Human Rights Center, "Indigenous Peoples' Human Rights Initiative."

(79.) Dougherty, "One Nation, under Fire."

(80.) University of Minnesota, Human Rights Center, "Indigenous Peoples' Human Rights Initiative."

(81.) University of Minnesota, Human Rights Center, "Indigenous Peoples' Human Rights Initiative."

(82.) Eckholm, "War without Borders."

(83.) Official website of the Tohono O'odham Nation; Luna-Firebaugh, "The Border Crossed Us."

(84.) Luna-Firebaugh, "The Border Crossed Us."

(85.) Revels, survey, November 16, 2011.

(86.) Luna-Firebaugh, "The Border Crossed Us."

(87.) Elizabeth Archuleta, "Securing Our Nation's Roads and Borders or Recircling the Wagons? Leslie Marmon Silko's Destabilization of 'Borders,'" American Indian Quarterly 20, no. 1 (2005): 125.

(88.) Dougherty, "One Nation, under Fire."

(89.) McCombs, "Arizona Tohono O'odham Members."

(90.) Dougherty, "One Nation, under Fire."

(91.) Luna-Firebaugh, '"Att Hascu 'Am O T-oi?"

(92.) Eckholm, "War without Borders."

(93.) Dougherty, "One Nation, under Fire."

(94.) Megan Magee, "The US-Mexico Border Wall: An Environmental and Human Rights Disaster," Prospect: Journal of International Affairs at UCSD,

(95.) Dougherty, "One Nation, under Fire."

(96.) Matthew L. M. Fletcher to Turtle Talk 2010, http://turtletalk.wordpress .com; Lynn Rosenthal to the White House Council on Women and Girls 2010,; Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010, hr 725, Public Law No. 111-211, 111 Cong., 2nd sess.

(97.) US Government Accountability Office, "Tribal Law and Order Act: None of the Surveyed Tribes Reported Exercising the New Sentencing Authority, and the Department of Justice Could Clarify Tribal Eligibility for Certain Grant Funds," GAO-12-658R, May 30, 2012; Jasmine Owens, "'Historic' in a Bad Way: How the Tribal Law and Order Act Continues the American Tradition of Providing Inadequate Protection to American Indian and Alaska Native Rape Victims," Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology 102, no. 2 (2012).

(98.) Winters, "Law Targets."

(99.) Civic Impulse, "Tracking the United States Congress" (2011),

(100.) Eileen M. Luna-Firebaugh, "Violence against American Indian Women and the Services-Training-Officers-Prosecutors Violence against Indian Women (stop vaiw) Program," Violence against Women 125, no. 12 (2006).

(101.) Kalt and Singer, Myths and Realities; Washborne, "Federal Criminal Law."

(102.) Brown and Mills, "Law Enforcement in Indian Country."

(103.) US Department of the Interior,

(104.) Dougherty, "One Nation, under Fire"; Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources, The Impact of the Drug Trade.

(105.) Dougherty, "One Nation, under Fire"; Johnson, "Border Indian Reservations."
TABLE 1. Deaths per 100,000 resulting from an injury sustained due to
violence in Arizona (1999-2007)

                    Number                   Crude   Age-adjusted
Race               of deaths   Population    rate        rate

American Indian/        904     2,692,059    33.58         33.08
Alaska Native
White                10,870    44,796,375    24.27         24.16
Black                   588     2,012,663    29.22         28.80
Asian/Pacific           118     1,289,689     9.15          9.65
Other (combined)      1,022     3,981,748    25.67         24.88

Source: Statistics in this table were collected from the Center
for Disease Controls "Web-Based Injury Statistics Query and
Reporting System (WISQARS)."

TABLE 2. Top five violent causes of death for
all ages by race in Arizona (1999-2007)

Rank                 Cause of death


1      Suicide suffocation             Suicide firearm
2      Homicide firearm                Homicide firearm
3      Suicide firearm                 Suicide suffocation
4      Homicide cut/pierce             Suicide poisoning
5      Homicide unspecified            Homicide cut/pierce

Source: Statistics in this table were collected from the Center
for Disease Controls "Web-Based Injury Statistics Query and
Reporting System (WISQARS)."

TABLE 3. Deaths per 100,000 resulting from an injury sustained
due to violence in New York (1999-2007)

                   Number                              Age-
                     of                     Crude    adjusted
Race               deaths     Population     rate      rate

American Indian/       40      1,099,017     3.64        3.44
Alaska Native
White              14.508    129,280,881    11.22       10.96
Black               6,016     30,995,576    19.41       18.73
Asian/Pacific         832     11,373,825     7.32        7.45
Other (combined)      872     12,472,842     6.99        7.12

Source: Statistics in this table were collected from the Center for
Disease Controls "Web-Based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting
System (WISQARS)."

TABLE 4. Top five violent causes of death
for all ages by race in New York (1999-2007)

Rank   Cause of death


1      Homicide firearm                   Homicide firearm

2      Suicide firearm and suicide        Suicide firearm

3      Homicide cut/pierce and suicide    Suicide suffocation

4      Homicide unspecified and suicide   Homicide transportation
       fall                               related

5      Homicide other, homicide           Suicide poisoning
       transportation related,
       and suicide cut/pierce

Source: Statistics in this table were collected from the Center
for Disease Controls "Web-Based Injury Statistics Query and
Reporting System (WISQARS)."

Note: For American Indian/Alaska Natives' cause of death in New
York, multiple causes were tied for each rank.

TABLE 5. Arizona state, county, and tribal demographics

                     Tohono        Pima        Pinal
                   O'odham (a)    County      County
                    N=10,734     N=843,746   N=179.727

% < poverty              40.5        10.5        12.1
level (families)

Per capita             $6,998      $19.79     $16,025

% of population           5.4        26.7        11.9
age 25+ with a
college degree

% unemployment            9.9         3.7         3.9
rate (age 16+)

Median age               25.8         35.7        37.1

                     County        Arizona
                   N=3,072,149   N=5,130,632

% < poverty               8.0            9.9
level (families)

Per capita            $22,251        $20,275

% of population          25.9           23.5
age 25+ with a
college degree

% unemployment            3.0            3.4
rate (age 16+)

Median age                 33           34.3

Source: All data collected from the US Census Bureau 2010,
with income statistics from 1999.

(a) Data represent the Tohono O'odham population from reservation
and oft-reservation trust land.

(b) Tohono O'odham population (n = 5,479), Pima County population
(n = 546,200), Pinal County population (N = 119,102), Maricopa
County population (n = 1,934,957), Arizona population
(n = 3,256,184).

(c) Tohono O'odham population (n = 7,154), Pima County population
(n = 658,638), Pinal County population (n = 139,536), Maricopa
County population (n = 2,327,675), Arizona population
(n = 3,907,229).

TABLE 6. New York state, county, and tribal demographics

                                Lawrence    Franklin
                   Mohawk (a)    County      County      New York
                    N=3,328     N=111,931   N=51,134   N=18,976,457

% < poverty              19.4       12.3       10.1            11.5

level (families)

Per capita            $12,017    $15,728    $15,888         $23,389

% of population           7.7       16.4         13             274
age 25+ with a
college degree

% unemployment            4.8        4.7        5.8             4.3
rate (age i6+)

Median age               30.9       35.4       36.3              36

Source: All data collected from the US Census Bureau 2010, with
income statistics from 1999.

(a) Data represent the Saint Regis Mohawk reservation only.

(b) Mohawk population (n = 1,529), Saint Lawrence County population
(n = 70,201), Franklin County population (n = 34,482), New York
population (n = 12,542,536).

(c) Mohawk population (n = 1,880), Saint Lawrence County population
(n = 88,953), Franklin County population (n = 41,040), New York
population (n = 14,805,912).
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Author:Revels, Asa; Cummings, Janet
Publication:The American Indian Quarterly
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2014
Previous Article:Colin G. Calloway. Ledger Narratives: The Plains Indian Drawings of the Lansburgh Collection at Dartmouth College.
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