Native American Tribal Laws
Other cases from those years have prevented states from interfering with the sovereignty of indigenous nations. Tribal sovereignty depends only on the federal government, not the states, under Washington v. Confederated Tribes of Colville Indian Reservation (1980). Tribes are sovereign over tribal members and tribal lands under United States v. Masurian (1975). Federal law recognizes a particular type of Indian sovereign authority to govern itself, subject to a higher federal authority. Native American tribes are considered “domestic and dependent nations” under federal law. Congress enacted this sovereign authority to protect Indian groups from state authority. This sovereign power extends to Indian tribal courts that adjudicate matters related to Indian affairs. The U.S.
Supreme Court heard a case in 2008 on the scope of tribal jurisdiction. In Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Cattle Co. (07-411), the United States The Supreme Court reaffirmed a long-standing principle that tribes have no jurisdiction over non-Indians who conduct activities for a simple fee to non-Indians, even if they are on an Indian reservation, unless the activity threatens the welfare of the tribe. FB: What steps should be taken to normalize the incorporation of tribal law and tribal systems of government into the legal landscape of courts in the United States? In contrast, important tribal law issues — such as what is essential to the political integrity, health, or well-being of the tribe to function as a self-governing entity — are decided by federal courts alone, without stopping to consider whether they are the most qualified court. A federally recognized tribe is a Native American or Alaska Indian tribal unit that has a governmental relationship with the United States with the responsibilities, powers, limitations, and obligations associated with that designation and is authorized to receive funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. When I enrolled in law school, I was told that there are only two types of laws in the United States that come from the two types of governments that we have in our federal system: federal law and state law. Imagine how weird it was for me! I am a citizen of a nation older than almost any other on the continent. I`ve endured tribal laws all my life, regularly participated in elections, complained when they changed the speed limit, etc. Then I went to law school and everyone pretended that the whole legal regime I grew up with did not exist. It was crazy! FB: What price is the country paying for decades of marginalization in the way tribal laws and tribal systems of government have evolved? In Iron Crow v. Oglala Sioux Tribe, the U.S.
Supreme Court found that two Oglala Sioux defendants convicted of adultery under tribal laws and another challenging a tribal tax were not exempt from the tribal justice system because they had obtained U.S. citizenship. He noted that tribes “always possess their inherent sovereignty unless expressly taken away by treaty or act of Congress.” This means that American Indians do not have exactly the same citizenship rights as other U.S. citizens. The Court cited jurisprudence from a pre-1924 case that “if Indians are willing to exercise privileges and bear burdens sui iuris,” that is, in their own name and not under the power of others, “tribal relations may be dissolved and national trusteeship terminated, but it is for Congress to determine when and how this should occur and whether emancipation should be complete or partial” (U.S. v. Nice, 1916). The Court further held, based on Lone Wolf v.
Hitchcock: “It is well established that Congress has authority over the Indians.” The Court noted that “the granting of citizenship per se did not destroy.” Jurisdiction of Indian Tribal Courts and. there was no intention on the part of Congress to do so. The conviction for adultery and the power of the tribal courts were upheld. The states required by Public Law 280 to assume civil and criminal jurisdiction over Native American lands were Alaska (with the exception of the Metlakatla Indian community on the Annette Island reservation, which maintains criminal jurisdiction), California, Minnesota (except the Red Lake reservation), Nebraska, Oregon (except the Warm Springs reservation), and Wisconsin. In addition, the federal government has abandoned all special criminal jurisdictions in these states dealing with Indian offenders and victims. The states that chose to assume full or partial jurisdiction were Arizona (1967), Florida (1961), Idaho (1963, subject to tribal consent), Iowa (1967), Montana (1963), Nevada (1955), North Dakota (1963, subject to tribal consent), South Dakota (1957-1961), Utah (1971), and Washington (1957-1963).