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.

Arizona Supreme Court Decides ICWA Transfer Case

The Community did not expressly waive its right to seek transfer; thus, the only waiver here would be implied because the Community did not seek transfer until after parental rights were terminated. However, “[t]o imply a waiver of jurisdiction would be inconsistent with the ICWA objective of encouraging tribal control over custody decisions affecting Indian children

Tribal Appellate Court Affirms Immunity

The issue as to whether Comanche Nation waived its sovereign immunity with respect to a binding arbitration clause contained in gaming machine vendor agreements signed by the Tribal Chairman on behalf of the tribe was brought before the Court of Indian Appeals for the Southern Plains Region in Anadarko, Oklahoma.

Overriding Tribal Sovereignty by Applying the National Labor Relations Act to Indian Tribes in Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort v. National Labor Relations Board

On July 1, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit decided Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort v. NLRB. The three-judge panel unanimously concluded that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), a generally applicable federal statute, should not apply to Indian tribes. However, by a 2-1 vote, the court held that the NLRA would apply to the tribally-owned and operated casino by the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Nation on reservation land.

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