The first call that John Grinsell received as the sole agent for Northern Cheyenne Investigative Services in February 2022 was for an assault. He arrived at the scene with no radio, no gun and no backup.
A Northern Cheyenne man who grew up in Busby, just within the boundary of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, Grinsell was just a few hours into a job created after a contentious back-and-forth between the Eastern Montanan tribe and federal authorities. The role came out of a nearly universal demand from the Northern Cheyenne Tribe for adequate public safety.
The tribe sued the Bureau of Indian Affairs, tasked with enforcing the law on Indian reservations nationwide, to wrest control over criminal investigations. Taking a proactive approach to investigating major crimes within the Northern Cheyenne Nation was just one of several grievances the tribe has leveled at the federal government over persistent failures to create a reliable, consistent police force and criminal justice system.
People are also reading…
The unanimous demand for better law enforcement has spurred the tribe to take the reigns as the rest of the country grapples with the role of police in public safety.