The Law of American Indians Posts
Reporters Matthew Fletcher and Wenona Singel discuss Tribal Sovereignty.
The doctrine of inherent tribal sovereignty — that tribes retain aboriginal sovereign governing power over people and territory — is under perpetual assault. Despite two centuries of precedential foundation, the doctrine must be defended afresh with each attack. Opponents of the doctrine of tribal sovereignty express skepticism of the doctrine, suggesting that tribal sovereignty is a nullity because it is not unfettered. Some pay lip service to the doctrine while undermining tribes in their exercise of inherent sovereignty.
Native Americans, like other minority groups, face racially motivated disenfranchisement efforts. Watershed victories for equal access to the ballot – including the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment and the Nineteenth Amendment – did not affect Native Americans because they were not considered U.S. citizens until the enactment of the Indian Citizenship Act in 1924. While the Act nominally enfranchised Native Americans, disenfranchisement tactics remained pervasive at the state level.
This Article examines what has been the role of the Supreme Court in integrating Indian nations as the third Sovereign within our federalist system.
The U.S Supreme Court denied a petition to hear a case involving whether, when, and to what extent the federal reserved right doctrine recognized in Winters v. United States pre-empts state-law regulation of groundwater.
Can American Indian nations sue and be sued in federal and state courts? Specific issues are whether tribes have corporate capacity to sue, whether a Native group has recognized status as a tribe, and whether and to what extent tribes and their officers have governmental immunity from suit.
In the case, S.S. v Colorado River Indian Tribes, the U.S. Supreme Court recently denied a petition for certiorari filed by the Goldwater Institute.
The petition alleges the Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law that established standards for the placement of Native American children in foster and adoptive homes, is unconstitutional.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held hearings Wednesday, Oct. 25, on two bills introduced by North Dakota senators to address issues raised after the killing in August of a 22-year-old Fargo woman, Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, and abduction of her newborn child.
At its meeting in New York City on October 19 and 20, The American Law Institute’s Council reviewed drafts for eight projects, with the following outcomes:
It’s highly appropriate for The American Law Institute to take on federal Indian law; it is fundamental to who we are as a nation. The history of federal Indian law reflects the country coming to grips with its colonization of indigenous peoples. The process has gone on now for a long time, obviously, and in the early stages, the state of the law was dismal from a human rights standpoint.