Healing from Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta: Looking to the Future of Indian Country Criminal Jurisdiction Through Healing to Wellness Courts and Public Law 280

Abby Edelberg Popenoe - UC Davis School of Law
Vol. 57
Page 119

The Supreme Court’s 2022 decision in Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta threatens not only continued uncertainty for Indian Country criminal jurisdiction but also a coming attack on all aspects of tribal sovereignty, thus making tools for implementing traditional practices that offer alternatives to Western carceral systems while facilitating assertions of tribal sovereignty more needed than ever. Decades ago, some tribes suffered great affronts to their sovereignty when the passage of Public Law 280 (“PL 280”) allowed certain enumerated states to assume criminal jurisdiction on tribal land. Many of these tribes are now leading the way in their implementation of Healing to Wellness Courts despite the additional barriers they face due to Public Law 280. As tribal nations look to the threats forewarned by Castro-Huerta, understanding the effects of Public Law 280 on the challenges tribes face in implementing traditional justice practices provides considerations for asserting sovereignty through criminal justice in an era of increasing jurisdictional uncertainty. 

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