Hopi Revises Criminal Code, Regains Sovereignty


Crime rates in Indian Country are more than twice the national average. But for decades antiquated criminal codes have limited what tribal courts could do.

For example, crimes like child abuse and sexual assault didn’t exist on the books. And, tribal judges couldn’t sentence a defendant to more than a year in jail. But that's changing now. The Hopi Tribe has recently revised its criminal code and as a result is regaining a degree of tribal sovereignty in its court system...

Native Nations
Resource Type

Morales, Laurel. "Hopi Revises Criminal Code, Regains Sovereignty." Fronteras: The Changing America Desk. March 8, 2013. Article. (https://fronterasdesk.org/content/6793/hopi-revises-criminal-code-regains-sovereignty, accessed July 17, 2023)

Related Resources

Tribes now free to prosecute non-Indians for certain crimes

American Indian tribes that meet certain criteria now have the authority to prosecute non-Indians for a limited set of domestic violence crimes, a shift supporters hope will reduce the high rate of violence on reservations. Three tribes in Arizona, Oregon and Washington state have exercised that…

A Leader Emerges: Hopi Tribe Adopts New Criminal Code According to Tribal Law and Order Act Standards

The Hopi Tribal Council voted to adopt a new criminal code on August 28, thereby scrapping a 1970s version that all but failed to punish sex crimes and limited tribal prosecutors to one-year terms, even for murder. In doing so, the small Arizona tribe emerged as a leader in Indian country when it…

Tribal Code Development Checklist for Implementation of Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction

This checklist (click to download) is designed as a tool to assist tribal governments seeking to develop tribal codes that implement special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction (SDVCJ) under section 904 of VAWA 2013. Tribal governments will likely be amending existing criminal codes, and every…