Choctaw Indians v. Dollar General Corporation

Choctaw Indians v. Dollar General Corporation

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The authority and jurisdiction of native Americans is still being challenged today. A recent Supreme Court case last December involved a dispute between the Dollar General Corporation and Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Tribe. It occurred in December 7, 2015.  Dollar General Corporation had a business license deal with the Tribe and was running an internship program for the youth. 13 year old “John Doe” is a Choctaw indian and he was sexually molested by the Dollar General store manager Mr. Townsend. The victim decided to sue both Mr. Townshend and the Dollar General corporation in Choctaw tribal court but both defendants claimed that the tribe had no legal right to hear a case against citizens who are not tribal members.  The case was taken up in Mississippi federal courts because it involved a dispute between state citizens and tribal jurisdiction.

This case was a matter of jurisdiction and how to interpret the legal precedent for the tribal court that been denied.  This case moved on to the Supreme Court because the defendant argued that the Choctaw Indian reservation’s court had no jurisdiction to decide the case. Therefore, the Choctaw were denied a legal precedent that had been set with the earlier Supreme Court agreement with Montana v. United States 1981, which allowed a tribe to regulate the activities of nonmembers who enter into a consensual arrangement with the tribe. As the Dollar General case proceeded to the Mississippi federal court of appeals the lawsuit against the store manager Mr. Townsend was dropped but the Dollar General corporation had to show the burden of evidence that  the Montana precedent did not apply in this case.  This case was granted by the US Supreme Court in June, 2015 and was argued in December, 2015 but currently this case is pending a final decision.

Native people rally on the steps of the Supreme Court in protest of the neglect of legitimate tribal jurisdiction.
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This is not the first time the American justice system has denied the legal jurisdiction of natives as this sketch illustrates a time when railroad companies were granted land by the federal government that legally had belonged to native tribes in the 19th century.


Here is a native point of view of this case.

Dollar General: Railroading The Tribes

To find out the latest news or petition the federal government on behalf of native people go to this link: