Washington Law Review

Comment

Fleeing East from Indian Country: State v. Eriksen and Tribal Inherent Sovereign Authority to Continue Cross-Jurisdictional Fresh Pursuit

December 01, 2012 | 87 Wash. L. Rev. 1251

Abstract:  In State v. Eriksen, the Washington State Supreme Court held that Indian tribes do not possess the inherent sovereign authority to continue cross-jurisdictional fresh pursuit and detain a non-Indian who violated the law on reservation land. This Comment argues the Eriksen Court’s reliance on RCW 10.92.020 is misplaced. RCW 10.92.020 is irrelevant to a consideration of sovereign authority. States do not have the authority to unilaterally define tribal power. A tribe retains sovereign powers not taken by Congress, given away in a treaty, or removed by implication of its dependent status. The Eriksen Court also misinterpreted the state statute as a limit on tribal authority to enforce laws and incorrectly dismissed the validity of cross-jurisdictional fresh pursuit of a non-felon. Eriksen guts the ability of tribes to enforce their sovereign right to uphold the law and safety on the reservation. To reinforce tribal power, Congress should enact legislation similar to the “Duro Fix,” a statutory recognition of inherent sovereign authority.

Download Full Comment