The sovereign status of federally recognized Indian tribes precludes most states from exercising criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country over Indian persons. Jurisdiction resides with the tribes themselves on a limited basis, or with the federal government. Federal criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country is derived from the Federal Criminal Code, Title 18, USC 1152 (Indian Country Crimes Act) and Title 18, USC 1153 (Major Crimes Act). FBI responsibility and jurisdiction for the investigation of federal violations in Indian Country under the Indian Country Crimes Act or Major Crimes Act is statutorily derived from Title 28 USC Section 533, pursuant to which the FBI was given investigative responsibility by the Attorney General. The resources allocated by the FBI to various locations throughout the country are based on a number of factors, to include: identified crimes problems; jurisdictional responsibilities; and the availability of non-FBI investigative resources.
The FBI has established the following priorities in Indian Country:
- Death Investigations
- Child Physical Abuse
- Child Sexual Abuse
- Violent Felony Assault
- Drugs and Gangs
- Financial Crimes
Half of all the IC cases opened by the FBI involve the top 4 violations on this list.