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Why a Montana tribe is suing the United States for better law enforcement

Missing Justice podcast: Northern Cheyenne tribe vs. U.S.
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Posted at 3:35 PM, Dec 14, 2022

For years, Northern Cheyenne tribal leaders have told the federal government they are concerned about the lack of law enforcement the federal government — which has direct jurisdiction — provides to the reservation.

And so the revelations during trial testimony that three federal agents admitted to not following certain protocols when when investigating the homicide of tribal member Christy Woodenthigh, didn't entirely surprise the leaders.

The federal agencies assigned to police the reservation and investigate major crimes are understaffed, resulting in delayed emergency response times and growing distrust between the tribal community and the agents, Tribal President Serena Wetherelt said in an interview for the fifth episode of CBS News' investigative podcast "Missing Justice."

After conveying these frustrations in letters to the Interior Department and Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement leadership over the past two years, tribal leadership decided in July 2022 to sue the United States of America, alleging the federal government is not upholding its obligations under treaties signed between the U.S. and the tribe.

The U.S. government has yet to respond to the tribe's lawsuit. The BIA has not responded to any questions posed by CBS News about Christy Woodenthigh's case, the investigation into her death, or how federal law enforcement is conducted throughout the reservation.

"Missing Justice" is available on Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts. New episodes will be released each Tuesday between Nov. 22 and Dec. 20.

If you have a story or want to get in touch with the Missing Justice reporters, please email MissingJustice@cbsnews.com.