Corporation Defends Sexual Assault, attacks Tribal Authority


On December 7th, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments and rule whether or not tribal courts have the authority to take legal action against corporations operating on reservations. The case stems from a 2003 civil suit, charging a corporate employee with sexual assault against an Indian child.

The Mississippi band of Choctaw Indians brought this case against the Dollar General Corporation after a store manager at the Choctaw reservation Dollar General, Dale Townshend, molested a thirteen-year-old Indian boy who was interning at the store as part of a Youth Opportunity Program

Congress has already installed legislation that prevents Indian tribal courts from bringing criminal charges against non-Indians accused of crimes on tribal land, and the attorney general of Mississippi declined to file any actions against Townshend or Dollar General in state court. Thus the parents were left with to pursue their case in tribal civil court as a last resort.

Dollar General Corporation, valued at $20 billion, is denying any responsibility for the conduct of their employees on tribal lands. They have lost in tribal court, federal court and the court of appeals, but their attorneys continue to argue that the tribe does not have the authority to police the behavior of non-tribal members, even if those individuals violate the human rights of tribe members.

This is an alarming assault on tribal sovereignty. If the arguments made by Dollar General’s corporate attorneys are followed to their logical conclusion, tribal authorities would have zero recourse to address criminal actions of non-Indians on their land, enabling them to commit crimes with impunity.

The extent of the powers that a tribal government can exercise over non members has been a topic of contention for decades. In Montana v. the United States (1981), the Supreme Court ruled that a, “…tribe may regulate, through taxation, licensing, or other means, the activities of nonmembers who enter consensual relationships with the tribe or its members.”

Furthermore, the case asserted that a tribe can, “exercise civil authority over the conduct of non-Indians on fee lands within its reservation when that conduct threatens or has some direct effect on the political integrity, the economic security, or the health or welfare of the Tribe.”

This clause directly asserts the authority of tribal government to take action when an outside entity engaged in commerce on tribal lands commits a violent crime against a tribe member.

However, in Nevada v Hicks (2001), the Court recognized it has never held that a tribal court had jurisdiction over a “nonmember defendant” in any context.

The result of these conflicting rulings is a strange contradiction over whether or not tribes can actually enforce laws against non tribal members if they commit crimes on on tribal land. This legal purgatory is dangerous, not just for tribal sovereignty, but for the thousands of people who live on Indian reservations.

Dollar General operates under the belief that the safety of Indians on their own lands is secondary to the profits of corporations operating there. This heinous position undermines the authority of Tribal governments nationwide to protect their people from violence and exploitation.

It is imperative that the Supreme Court reject these faulty and unjust arguments brought by Dollar General’s attorneys, and uphold the rulings of lower courts that have elevated the importance of public safety over the corporate bottom line. Let us hope they have the wisdom to rule justly on this case.



3 thoughts on “Corporation Defends Sexual Assault, attacks Tribal Authority”

  1. Wow. Just heard about David on coast to coast. Hard to believe in this supposedly modern world we live on the native American is still getting screwed. Hasn’t the US gov (us) done enough horrific and irresponsible actions in the past? Insanity is not strong enough. I remember as an unknowing youth playing cowboys and Indians. Not realizing the unforgivable untruths thrust upon ad as impressionable kids. But recently teaching my wonderful Kaydence (grandchild) that I had a difficult time addressing how I used to play! Well after about a half hour of setting the record straight concerning the Thanksgiving truths we finally played. I know may not seem important to you readi g this but was huge to me. Especially raised like others through grade schools racially biased BS history I had to set Kay straight! She totally listened, learned, and enjoyed my rendition of the importance and greatness of our brothers.
    Now I’m at regular white 60 year old who acts 18 and totally enjoys everything. Ancient history is my bag. Love it. So if and when possible I pass it on every chance I get with my favorite little critters ha-ha.
    Definitely to Kay, Tuck and Logey since they have a few Mexican genes running around in them so its important they know how blessed they are to be native American!
    As a follower of Edgar Cayces work we would be led to believe this continent was greatly populated by highly intelligent previous Atlantis settlers and refugess from the following cataclysm of Atlantis. Great gene pool. And yes, we,us, the European white man devastated their culture. So f–king bad, so wrong!
    Always remember and passed on how wrong for the white man was for tromping on the Indians while in fact it was the European who was the savage. Point being it was the Indian man who stated “the white man stunk!” Sorta makes sense as most used abusive amounts of perfumes to disguise unwashed bodies under layers of filthy clothing. Most don’t realize, as we are unconsciously blessed with plenty of water. Hundress of years ago not so much. Probably why even kids drank wine at all meals, dahey people, limited water supply.
    So we take a sophisticated society with a direct and very unbroken genealogical pedigree from a vastly superior entity and destroy it. For what. Ah yes, the church. And of course greed, power, dominace and mine mine mine attitude. Great. Typical of attitudes that will continue to wreck havic, unless our children change. Children DO NOT learn enough worldly truths and selfish ideals these days. From birth examples of kindness, compassion, intelligence and indepence would be favorable and promote a positive future. Children who have the freedom to be themselves! Think for themselves. Not our little clones. Bring forth delightful beings with only loving and giving actions for all. Right? I wish. Did with my kids though.( well tried).
    Wow, maybe then all the fantastic and totally wonderful mind evoking material we destroyed upon conquering all of the Americas would still be with us!
    My heart, thoughts and blessings go out for the young individual who was accosted by the Dollar General employee. And for all the people who are in fact the true owners of this great land who have n fact should me writing their own laws on their own land.
    As I taught my youngins, no matter how bad this trauma your experiencing this day and time a Rose is sure to bloom from this. It may not seem like it or you may not notice it then BUT that Rose does appear and good always triumps!!!! G. Gregory Akrey
    Nov 28 2015

    1. G. Gregory, you are a true human being and your teachings, and your realizations. Thank you for your thoughts and how you have taught your children. Racism is such an ugly disease.

  2. The only issue I have with this posting is that both Dollar General and the accused manager are denying any of the accusations. Remember, the state and the FBI declined to file any charges. That of course doesn’t excuse the alleged crime, but what’s happening is a case of jurisdiction and not a debate over whether an actual crime was even committed. My question is, why no settlement? Dollar General has been sued in the past and has settled. A sum of $2.5 million does sound high, but these cases usually settle. Interesting that the Choctaw at first said they would drop any charges if the manager agreed to leave the reservation, which he did. But later the boy’s parents filed suit. Very complicated case.

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