By: Justin E. Brooks
Thousands of Indigenous women and girls have gone missing or have been found murdered across the United States and Canada; these disappearances and killings are so frequent and widespread that they have become known as the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Crisis (MMIW Crisis). Indigenous communities in both countries often lack the jurisdiction to prosecute violent crimes committed by non-Indigenous offenders against Indigenous victims on Indigenous land.
Extractive industries—businesses that establish natural resource extraction projects—aggravate the problem by establishing temporary housing for large numbers of non-Indigenous, primarily male workers on or around Indigenous land (“man camps”). Violent crimes against Indigenous communities around extractive industry projects have increased with the establishment of man camps while the current legal systems leave Indigenous communities vulnerable against this clear threat. Both the United States and Canada have endorsed international declarations of Indigenous rights, agreeing to protect Indigenous communities from violence, yet the MMIW Crisis in both countries continues.
This Note first argues that both the United States and Canada can best further their commitments to international Indigenous rights while also combatting the MMIW Crisis by allowing Indigenous communities to exercise full criminal jurisdiction over non-Indigenous assailants of Indigenous victims on Indigenous lands. This Note then argues that, until full criminal jurisdiction over non-Indigenous offenders is realized, the United States and Canada can help further Indigenous international rights by providing extractive industries with financial incentives to address their role in enabling the MMIW Crisis.