State Law on tribal property
Does Oklahoma’s statute of limitations apply where two private individuals are involved in an accident on tribal property?
Answer: I think so, although I don’t know of a case squarely holding that. The closest authority to that issue is probably Montana v. U.S., 450 U.S. 544. That case’s holding is best described in Strate v. A-1 Contractors, 520 U.S. 438, 447: “Montana thus described a general rule that, absent a different congressional direction, Indian tribes lack civil authority over the conduct of nonmembers on non-Indian land within a reservation, subject to two exceptions: The first exception relates to nonmembers who enter consensual relationships with the tribe or its members; the second concerns activity that directly affects the tribe's political integrity, economic security, health, or welfare. The Montana Court recognized that the Crow Tribe retained power to limit or forbid hunting or fishing by nonmembers on land still owned by or held in trust for the Tribe. Id., at 557, 101 S.Ct., at 1254. The Court held, however, that the Tribe lacked authority to regulate hunting and fishing by non-Indians on land within the Tribe's reservation owned in fee simple by non-Indians. Id., at 564-567, 101 S.Ct., at 1257-1259.”
Strate involved a car wreck on a federal highway through an Indian reservation involving two non-Indians and held the tribal courts had no jurisdiction, leaving the issue to the appropriate state or federal courts. The case concludes that: “As to nonmembers, we hold, a tribe's adjudicative jurisdiction does not exceed its legislative jurisdiction. Absent congressional direction enlarging tribal-court jurisdiction, we adhere to that understanding. Subject to controlling provisions in treaties and statutes, and the two exceptions identified in Montana, the civil authority of Indian tribes and their courts with respect to non-Indian fee lands generally “do[es] not extend to the activities of nonmembers of the tribe.” Ibid.”
Posted on Thu, February 24, 2011
by Sharon Coleman filed under