Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Dependent Indian Community Definition:

(USA) Any area validly set apart for the use of the Indians under the superintendence of the Government.

Related Terms: Indian Country

One of three criteria in the United States Code for exicing the jurisdiction of state law to offences committed on Indian country.

As Justice Reade of the United States District Court (Iowa) wrote in US v Papakee:

"[A] crime occurs in Indian country if it occurs on (1) an Indian reservation, (2) a dependent Indian community or (3) an Indian allotment...."

In Onieda Indian Nation, Justice Barrington Parker of the United States Court of Appeals used these words:


"In general, Indian country refers to the geographic area in which tribal and federal laws normally apply and state laws do not....

"Dependent Indian communities encompass any area validly set apart for the use of the Indians as such, under the superintendence of the Government. Indian allotments are those parcels allocated to tribes, as opposed to those opened to settlers, under federal policies designed to accommodate the westward movement of settlers and to promote the integration of Indians into the wider society. Once a reservation has been established, or a dependent Indian community shown to exist, it will remain Indian country until terminated by Congress, irrespective of the nature of the land ownership."

In US v Arrieta, an assault charge was brought against an individual for injury done to an Indian on a road called Shady Lane. The lane was situated in Sante Fe County, New Mexico, and ran between two parcels of land owned by non-Indians but within the borders of the Pojoaque Pueblo Indian land. That title had never been extinguished by the United States government.

Justice Michael McConnell of the United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit) found that Shady Lane was Indian country as it was dependent Indian community:

"Two requirements must be satisfied for Indian lands to be classified as a dependent Indian community. First, the lands must have been set aside by the Federal Government for the use of the Indians as Indian land. This requirement guarantees that the land is actually occupied by an Indian community. Second, the lands must be under federal superintendence. The latter requirement ensures that the community is dependent on the federal government such that the federal government and the Indians, rather than the states, exercise primary jurisdiction."


  • Oneida Indian Nation v. City of Sherrill, NY, 337 F. 3d 139 (2003)
  • US v. Arrieta, 436 F. 3d 1246 (2006)
  • US v. Papakee, 485 F. Supp. 2d 1032 (2007)

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