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.

Navajo Sign Law Criminalizing Human Trafficking

Navajo President Russell Begaye on August 7 signed the Navajo Nation Law against Human Trafficking, signaling his commitment to take a stance against an international crime that targets some of the world’s most vulnerable populations. The law, which amends the tribe’s criminal code, also calls for cooperation among government and civil institutions to define, prevent and combat the illegal “transporting, trading or dealing” of people.

Ninth Circuit Allows Bishop Paiute Law Enforcement Case to Proceed

The Bishop Paiute Tribe (the “Tribe”) seeks a declaration that they have the right to “investigate violations of tribal, state, and federal law, detain, and transport or deliver a non-Indian violator [encountered on the reservation] to the proper authorities.” Before reaching this issue, the district court dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds, concluding that the case presents no actual case or controversy.

The Master’s Tools: Tribal Sovereignty and Tribal Self-Governance Contracting/Compacting

Tribal self-governance contracting/compacting has significantly raised American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) health outcomes, standards of living, and education rates across tribal backgrounds. However, whether the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) of 1975 empowers tribal sovereignty remains an open question—a question with important policy implications for tribal governments.

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