National Indian Country Clearinghouse on Sexual Assault

LGBTQIAlthough the federal government can prosecute rape and sexual assault crimes committed by Indians in Indian Country, nothing precludes most tribes from enacting their own sexual assault codes.


These codes can be used to prosecute Indian offenders in tribal courts. Indeed, many tribes have already adopted sexual assault codes or are actively working towards adoption of these codes. Non-Indians who commit acts of sexual violence against an intimate partner or former intimate partner may also be prosecuted in tribal court.


Even where no tribal sexual assault code exists, tribal criminal justice professionals can work collaboratively with federal criminal justice professionals to ensure a successful federal prosecution and conviction of the offender.  Tribal prosecutors may also be able to charge an Indian perpetrator of sexual assault for the commission of some of the following crimes under their current tribal codes:


  • Assault or Aggravated Assault
  • Harassment
  • Indecent Exposure
۞ Stalking
  • Trespassing
  • Disturbing the Peace
  • Burglary
  • Incest
  • Kidnapping
  • Loitering
۞ False Imprisonment ۞ Violation of a Protection Order
۞ Elder Abuse ۞ Violation of a Court Order
۞ Child Abuse ۞ Threats and Intimidation
۞ Disorderly Conduct ۞ Peeping Tom/Window Peeping
۞ Criminal Damage/Malicious Mischief    


Many of the above listed crimes can also be used when a tribal sexual assault code has been enacted, but tribal prosecutors cannot meet their burden of proof in proving every element of that crime.


It is important to note that Indian perpetrators can be convicted in tribal court of both sexual assault and of any other crimes committed during the course of the sexual assault. The maximum sentence an Indian defendant can receive in tribal court for any single crime committed in Indian Country is up to one year of imprisonment and a $5,000 fine unless the requirements of the Tribal Law and Order Act have been met. Under TLOA, tribes may impose sentences of up to 3 years and a $15,000 fine.  Tribal prosecutors may be able to utilize the above listed crimes to “max and stack” criminal charges and sentences against Indian defendants in tribal courts.  In other words, tribal judges can force defendants to serve their tribal sentences consecutively instead of concurrently. This can result in significantly more jail time for Indian perpetrators than in cases where the perpetrator was only charged with sexual assault.






Tribal Protection Order Codes -10

Tribal Sex Offender Registration Codes -37

Tribal Stalking Codes -20


Full Publication List



  • Tribal Sexual Assault Codes:


Blackfeet Sexual Assault Code


Chickasaw Nation Sexual Assault Code


Chitmacha Sexual Assault Code


Colorado River Tribes Sexual Assault Code


Confederated Umatilla Sexual Assault Code


Coville Tribe Sexual Assault Code


Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Sexual Assault Code


Day Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians Sexual Assault Code


Fort Peck Tribes Sexual Assault Code


Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe Sexual Assault Code


Hopi Sexual Assault Code


Kalispel Tribe of Indians Sexual Assault Code


Mississippi Band of Choctaw Sexual Assault Code


Nez Perce Tribal Sexual Assault Code


Nisqually Sexual Assault Code


Northern Cheyenne Sexual Assault Code


Nottawa Seppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Sexual Assault Code


Oglala Sioux Tribe Sexual Assault Code


Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Sexual Assault Code


Pueblo of Isleta Sexual Assault Code


Pueblo of Laguna Sexual Assault Code


Rosebud Sioux Tribe Sexual Assault Code


Santee Sioux Sexual Assault Code


Siletz Tribal Sexual Assault Code


Tohono O'odham Nation Sexual Assault Code


The Confederated Band of Warm Springs Reservation Sexual Assault Code


Winnebago Tribal Sexual Assault Code


White Mountain Apache Tribe Sexual Assault Code


National Indian Country Clearinghouse on Sexual Assault, a project by the Southwest Center for Law and Policy © 2013

This project was supported by  Grant No. 2011-TA-AX-K045 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women. Points of view in this document are those of the author and do not necessary represent the official position of the U.S. Department of Justice. All rights reserved. | Privacy policy