Justia Native American Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Criminal
Tribal police arrested Shaula Marie George for possession of methamphetamine on the Coeur d’Alene reservation. Upon discovery that George was not a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, the case was referred to the Kootenai County district court. George filed a motion to dismiss based on lack of jurisdiction. The district court granted George’s motion, finding that despite the fact that George was not eligible to become a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, George was an Indian; thus, the district court did not have jurisdiction. To determine whether a defendant is an Indian for jurisdictional purposes courts have applied some variation of a test developed in United States v. Rogers, 45 U.S. 567 (1846), which considers the degree of Indian blood and tribal or government recognition as Indian. Later case law has held enrollment in a tribe is not an absolute requirement for recognition as an Indian. Whether a non-tribe member can be considered an Indian for jurisdictional purposes is a matter of first impression for the Idaho Supreme Court. The district court determined that despite the fact George is not eligible to become a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe she still satisfied the two- prong test: (1) she possessed a significant percentage of Indian blood; and (2) she had been recognized as an Indian by either the federal government or some tribe or society of Indians. While George was not qualified for enrollment due to an economic policy decision, the district court found that George had extensive ties to the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. Finding no error in the district court judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed its jurisdiction determination. View "Idaho v. George" on Justia Law