Navajo passes law limiting police access to land

By Felicia Fonseca
Flagstaff, Arizona (AP) January 2011

Navajo lawmakers have passed legislation prohibiting non-tribal officers from searching or arresting American Indian suspects on the reservation absent a cross-commissioning agreement.

The legislation approved last week came in response to a New Mexico Supreme Court decision in a 2005 drunken driving case involving a Navajo man.

The court said DWI tests performed by a sheriff’s deputy on the reservation did not threaten Navajo sovereignty because the tribe had no rules or procedures on how to deal with the situation.

The new Navajo law seeks to prevent encroachment by outside law enforcement and compel county and state officers to enter into cross-commissioning agreements with the tribe.