The subject matter of this Restatement predates the birth of our nation. Some of the most important early decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, including ones authored by Chief Justice John Marshall, deal with the Law of American Indians. And tribes, along with the federal government and the states, are one of the three categories of sovereigns in the United States. (Excerpted from the Forward of Tentative Draft No. 1 by ALI Director Richard L. Revesz)

This field is so informed by history, probably more than any other in some ways. … Certainly in the field of Indian affairs, a lot of damage has been done in the past, and there are a lot of challenges for the future just to get things right from the perspective of those of us who believe that tribes should have a voice in this society, and that there are good rules to help bolster that voice. (Excerpted from an interview with Associate Reporter Kaighn Smith)

A significant portion of Chapter 1 (Federal-Tribal Relationships) has been approved by ALI’s membership.  This chapter contains General Terms, Federal–Tribal Relationship, American Indian Treaty Law, Federal Legislation, and Breach of Trust Claims.

Additional planned chapters:

  • Chapter 2 will focus on the powers of Indian tribes, including the power to determine what form of government tribes will develop, to determine the criteria for membership in the tribe, and also to legislate with respect to a wide variety of matters like taxation.
  • Chapter 3 will address tribal-state relations.
  • Chapter 4 is going to address two aspects of economic development in Indian country; tribes as economic actors, and tribes as economic regulators.
  • Chapter 5 will address an issue that is at the forefront in Indian law policy right now – Indian country criminal jurisdiction.

Securing Equal Access to the Ballot for Native Americans

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.

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