In 2000, the Dollar General Corporation entered into a series of agreements with the Mississippi Band Choctaw Indians to open a Dollar General store on the Tribe’s lands in Mississippi. Numerous national chains and corporations maintain commercial establishments on tribal lands, leasing lands, facilities, and related commercial venues for their enterprises. Such leases and agreements form contracts that are executed by both tribal and corporate attorneys.
Dollar General agreed not only to lease lands from the Tribe for its retail business but also to enter into the Tribe’s Youth Opportunity Program, which places tribal youth in working environments. In Summer 2003, a 13-year-old entered this program and was placed within the Dollar General store under the supervision of a store manager who, the minor and his parents allege, sexually assaulted him. Since the United States Supreme Court, in 1978, declared that Tribal Governments may no longer exercise their inherent criminal jurisdiction over Indians who commit crimes on tribal lands, the minor, his family, and the Tribe looked to the local U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecution. The United States declined to proceed with a criminal complaint, and the minor and his parents then sued Dollar General and its employee in tribal court, seeking damages relating to the child’s injuries. The District Court and Mississippi Band of Choctaw Supreme Court both sided with the minor.