Ryan Fortson


Extensive case law already exists in Alaska on the jurisdiction of tribal courts over domestic relations cases, with one of the seminal cases—John v. Baker—establishing that Alaska tribes have jurisdiction even in the absence of Indian country. A common assumption, though, is that Alaska tribes do not have jurisdiction over criminal offenses. This Article argues that both under the logic of John v. Baker and the development of Indian law in the Lower 48, Alaska tribes already possess inherent jurisdiction over criminal offenses within their Native villages. With the gamut of social challenges facing Alaska Natives in rural Alaska, tribes need to be empowered to exercise this jurisdiction.

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