New 9th Circuit opinion

The Ninth Circuit, in an opinion by Judge Reinhardt and a dissent by Chief Judge Kozinski, held that a Blackfeet descendant was not an Indian for the purposes of criminal prosecution under the Major Crimes Act. The Court found that Cruz, a Blakfeet and a Canadian Blood Indian, did not meet the second prong of its test set forth in U.S. v. Bruce, 394 F.3d 1215 (9th Cir. 2005). The four factors under the second prong include: 1) tribal enrollmnent; 2) government recognition through receipt of benefits reserved to Indians; 3) enjoyment of benefits due to tribal affiliation; and 4) social recognition. Although Cruz is a descendant of a Blackfeet, Cruz is not an enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe and did not take advantage of any benefits reserved for Indians. Although Cruz lived on the reservation for a short time as a child, attended public school on the reservation and worked on the reservation, the Court did not find that these facts could satisfy any of the four factors under Bruce’s second prong.

The decision can be found at: