N. Cheyenne Tribe sues feds over dire public safety on reservation

Paul Hamby

The Northern Cheyenne Tribe is suing the federal government after enduring years of unaddressed violent crime and missing tribal members.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, names the United States, the Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and several leading officials within those agencies as plaintiffs. The tribe is claiming the federal government has breached its obligation to keep Northern Cheyenne residents on the reservation safe, and demands that the DOI and BIA fulfill those obligations.

“Public safety on-reservation is severely compromised due to the lack of meaningful BIA law enforcement presence in our communities,” said Northern Cheyenne Tribe President Serena Wetherelt in a statement Tuesday. “Officers often respond to 911 calls too late and even when they do show up, they frequently fail to make reports, secure crime scenes, or arrest people who are actively committing crimes. We are plagued by repeat offenders. Meanwhile, we have virtually no local jail. Our Northern Cheyenne people are in danger due to the inadequacy and incompetence of BIA law enforcement.”

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