Bob Anderson on PL 280 Retrocession Legislation in Washington State

Robert T. Anderson has published “Negotiating Jurisdiction: Retroceding State Authority over Indian Country Granted by Public Law 280” in the Washington Law Review. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Here is the abstract:

The Public Law 280 legislation was approved by Congress in the face of strenuous Indian opposition and denied consent of the Indian tribes affected by the Act . . . .

The Indian community viewed the passage of Public Law 280 as an added dimension to the dreaded termination policy. Since the inception of its passage the statute has been criticized and opposed by tribal leaders throughout the Nation. The Indians allege that the Act is deficient in that it failed to fund the States who assumed jurisdiction and as a result vacuums of law enforcement have occurred in certain Indian reservations and communities. They contend further that the Act has resulted in complex jurisdictional problems for Federal, State and tribal governments.

S. Comm. on the Interior & Insular Affairs, 94th Cong., Background Rep. on Public Law 280 (Comm. Print 1975) (statement of Sen. Henry M. Jackson, Chairman).

Senator Jackson’s statement accurately described the issues then and now. This Article reviews the legal history of federal-tribal-state relations in the context of Public Law (P.L.) 280 jurisdiction. Washington State has recently taken progressive steps that could serve as the foundation for a national model to remove state jurisdiction as a tribal option. The federal self-determination policy is not advanced by adherence to termination era experiments like P.L. 280. The article concludes that federal legislation should provide for a tribally-driven retrocession model, and makes proposals to that end.

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