Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune today sent a letter to tribal leaders, law enforcement officers, and other stakeholders in South Dakota asking for their comments on a soon-to-be-introduced Senate bill aimed at combating violent crime in Native American communities across the nation. The bill, drafted by Senator Dorgan (D-ND), Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and others, would encourage the appointment of special prosecutors in Indian Country, promote cooperation between state, local, and tribal authorities, and improve the training and deployment of police officers on reservations.

"Violent crime is reaching a crisis level in many places in Indian Country," said Thune. "I look forward to working with Senator Dorgan on this bill because it would help stem the tide of violence by empowering tribal courts and encouraging tribal leaders to partner with federal, state, and local authorities to prosecute criminals and to address the root causes of crime. Reducing violent crime in Indian Country will allow us to move forward in improving education, increasing economic development opportunities, and improving access to health care. I encourage all interested parties to send comments to my office so that suggestions can be considered as we draft the final bill."

In February, the U.S. Senate passed S. 1200, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which included Senator Thune's amendment to require a Government Accountability Office study of the tribal justice systems of North and South Dakota. Also, in March, the Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Resolution, which included Senator Thune's amendment to authorize $200 million in additional funding for police and prosecutors over the next five years to address the growing problem of crime on American Indian reservations.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs recently commenced "Operation Dakota Peacekeeper," which is an effort to increase the law enforcement presence on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. Senator Thune had urged such a measure, and his comments on the plan can be viewed here.