PAEZ, Circuit Judge:
The Major Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1153, provides federal criminal jurisdiction for certain crimes committed by Indians in Indian country.
Gentry Carl LaBuff was charged with robbery and aiding and abetting robbery in Indian country in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1153(a) and 2111. A jury convicted LaBuff of these charges following a two-day trial. On appeal, LaBuff contends that the government did not present sufficient evidence to establish that he is an "Indian" for purposes of prosecution under § 1153. We disagree and conclude that, in light of all the evidence presented at trial, a reasonable trier of fact could have found that LaBuff is an Indian. We therefore affirm his conviction.
LaBuff was born in 1979 to Levi Samuel LaBuff and Margie Downey. His mother is white and his father is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe. The Blackfeet are a federally recognized tribe based in northern Montana. Given his parents' heritage, LaBuff is 5/32 Blackfeet Indian and 1/16 Cree Indian.
Because LaBuff's father is a member of the Blackfeet Tribe, the Tribe designated LaBuff as a "descendant of a member"
LaBuff was born and raised on the Blackfeet Reservation. As a child, LaBuff attended a public school on the reservation that is open to non-Indians. With the exception of a brief six-month period when LaBuff lived in Washington State, he has lived on the reservation his entire life. Although LaBuff has descendant status, he is not eligible to vote in tribal elections and he has not otherwise participated in tribal cultural activities.
On multiple occasions, LaBuff has been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted of crimes under the jurisdiction of the tribal court. LaBuff, however, has never before challenged the tribal court's exercise of jurisdiction on the basis of his alleged status as a non-Indian.
On October 25, 2008, LaBuff and his cousin robbed a Subway restaurant that was located within the boundaries of the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, Montana. They were arrested and charged by indictment with robbery and aiding and abetting robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2111, which is a federal offense when committed by an Indian on an Indian reservation,
We review de novo the sufficiency of the evidence, United States v. LeVeque, 283 F.3d 1098, 1102 (9th Cir.2002), and consider whether, "after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt." Jackson, 443 U.S. at 319, 99 S.Ct. 2781 (emphasis in original).
Native American tribes generally have exclusive jurisdiction over crimes committed by Indians against Indians in Indian country. Two federal statutes, however, provide for federal jurisdiction over such crimes. The first statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1152, known as the General Crimes Act,
In the absence of a statutory definition, we have applied a two-part test for determining whether a person is an Indian for the purpose of establishing federal jurisdiction over crimes in Indian country. We have concluded that, for a criminal defendant to be subject to § 1153, the government must present evidence to establish that the defendant has a sufficient "degree of Indian blood," and that he has "tribal or federal government recognition as an Indian." Bruce, 394 F.3d at 1223, 1224.
Here, the government's evidence showed that LaBuff is 5/32 Blackfeet Indian.
LaBuff first contends that because he was not an enrolled member in the Blackfeet Tribe, "the government failed to prove the most important factor in determining if the accused has tribal or federal government recognition as an Indian." As LaBuff acknowledges, however, tribal enrollment is not required to establish "recognition" as an Indian. Indeed, "enrollment in an official tribe has not been held to be an absolute requirement for federal jurisdiction, at least where the Indian defendant lived on the reservation and `maintained tribal relations with the Indians thereon.'" United States v. Antelope, 430 U.S. 641, 647 n. 7, 97 S.Ct. 1395, 51 L.Ed.2d 701 (1977); see also United States v. Broncheau, 597 F.2d 1260, 1263 (9th Cir.1979) ("Enrollment is the common evidentiary means of establishing Indian status, but it is not the only means nor is it necessarily determinative."). Although LaBuff was not an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe, he resided on the reservation and maintained relations with the Tribe. Thus, we conclude that the absence of any evidence that LaBuff was an enrolled
Turning to the second Bruce factor, the government presented evidence that LaBuff received "government recognition . . . through receipt of assistance reserved only to Indians." Bruce, 394 F.3d at 1224. At trial, the government presented the testimony of Helen Butterfly ("Butterfly"), a health records lab technician at the Blackfeet Community Hospital. Butterfly testified that on the basis of LaBuff's classification as an Indian descendant of a tribal member, he was eligible to receive healthcare services at the hospital, which is operated by the federal government and which limits its services to tribal members and other non-member Indians. Butterfly further testified that since May 1979, LaBuff received free healthcare services from the hospital.
Similarly, we conclude that because LaBuff frequently received healthcare services on the basis of his status as a descendent of an enrolled member, he enjoyed the "benefits" of his tribal affiliation, as required by Bruce's third factor.
LaBuff contends that this case is analogous to United States v. Cruz, where we concluded that the government failed to satisfy any of the Bruce factors. 554 F.3d at 842-43. In discussing the second Bruce factor, we found that the government failed to demonstrate "government recognition" of Cruz's Indian status "through receipt of assistance reserved only to Indians." Id. at 848. (emphasis in original). In so concluding, we noted that the record was completely devoid of evidence showing that Cruz had received any benefits from his tribe. Id. Moreover, we specifically rejected the government's argument that the second Bruce factor could be established by demonstrating eligibility rather than actual receipt of benefits. Id. at 849. By contrast, the evidence presented by the government here showed that the Tribe recognized LaBuff as an Indian and that he repeatedly received and took advantage of healthcare benefits "reserved only to Indians." LaBuff attempts to gloss over these critical facts by arguing that he did not take advantage of all of the benefits for which he was eligible. We are not persuaded. In Cruz, we simply acknowledged that the receipt of benefits was essential to satisfying the second Bruce factor. Id. at 848. We, however, did not suggest that the government needed to prove receipt of every benefit for which Cruz was eligible. Consequently, we conclude that the second and third Bruce factors can be satisfied by demonstrating receipt of a substantial benefit "reserved only to Indians," such as the free medical care provided to LaBuff.
The fourth and final Bruce factor, requires a showing of "social recognition as an Indian through residence on a reservation and participation in Indian social life." Bruce, 394 F.3d at 1224. While the record evidence established that LaBuff lived, grew up, and attended school on the Blackfeet Reservation, there was no evidence that he participated in tribal activities or voted in tribal elections. While voting and participating in tribal activities are important for purposes of evaluating this factor, the lack of any such activities, does not preclude a reasonable inference of social
Finally, we note that in addition to all of the above evidence relating directly to the Bruce factors, which are not exclusive, Maggi, 598 F.3d at 1081, the government also presented evidence that on multiple occasions, LaBuff was arrested, prosecuted, and convicted under the jurisdiction of the tribal courts.
In sum, the evidence presented at trial, when taken in the light most favorable to the government, was sufficient for any rational factfinder to have found, beyond a reasonable doubt, that LaBuff is an Indian for purposes of § 1153.