Source: (-0001) Thomas Jefferson Law Review. Vol. 29:265

Part I of this Note summarizes the relationship between the United States government and the Native American tribes in regard to the regulation and oversight of tribal justice systems. Part II explores how the United States government has eroded that relationship by violating its obligations under the Trust Doctrine, leading to high rates of incarceration and recidivism among Native Americans as a group. Additionally, Part II compares how Canada actively responded to excessive rates of imprisonment among its Native peoples. Part III describes how the use of sentencing circles can restore the Trust Relationship by comparing the effective uses of the circles in Canada and within American Indian tribes. In addition, this Part illustrates Canada's further willingness to honor its own duty to its Aboriginal peoples through the implementation of a protective criminal statute. Part IV asserts that Congress has the power to enact similar legislation to amend existing federal sentencing laws, and proposes language for a statute intended to heal the Trust Relationship by protecting Native Americans from continued high rates of incarceration. Finally, Part V acknowledges potential counterarguments and limitations to a comparable federal law and refutes them.(Excerpt)