Talk:Tribal sovereignty in the United States

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This is very US-centric. Anyone know anything about the situation in Canada? DJ Clayworth 19:12, 10 Mar 2004 (UTC)

It is also very focused on tribal sovereignty of the early 21st, and does not explore the actions of tribes when they were full sovereigns before the imposition of US law.
The lead graph can clarify that this article at this juncture explores tribal sovereignty in the United States. The status of tribal sovereignty in Canada would be interesting to explore, but the concept also enjoys some tradition in international law, in many of the Southern nations of the Americas and among nations of Africa and Australia. Britian impuned domestic tribes upon its foundation as a religous monarchy, but in its colonial years established some legal traditions that endure to this day.

(William M. Connolley 19:27, 2004 Mar 10 (UTC)) This page has a lot of edits by Bird (and related username SoCal), who was temporarily blocked from editing by user:Ed Poor. So I think someone who knows this should take a close look at the current text. I know nothing about it but the phrase "dependant sovereign nations" used in the intro looks wrong. (Personal comments refactored)

(William M. Connolley wrote: I know nothing about it but...
But there is a source provided in the article: * TRIBAL SOVEREIGNTY AND JURISDICTION (It’s a Matter of Trust)By:William. F. Kussel Jr., which provided basis for this anon user to further improve this detailed article by using the original words of Justice Marshall in the context of the sovereignty his words recognize. The concept of sovereignty is recongized in international law as part of the concept of "nation" and has been so recognized in the context of US indigenous law at least since 1831. (Indian Tribes characterized as "domestic dependant nations" Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, 30 U.S. 1 (1831)). The nation continued reaching treaties with some tribes as full sovereigns until about that time, and in some cases, with tribes outside the national boundaries after that date. As the article explains, and as is cited in the source material, the nature of tribal sovereignty was further defined by cases in the late 20th Century that specifically explored the limits of sovereignty enjoyed by domestic dependant nations of the United States.


I was pleasantly surprised to see a wiki article about this. I think the difficulty here is that Tribal Sovereignty is a concept, and it has been constantly evolving ever since Europeans arrived and started signing treaties. Currently it is a hot issue in Indian Land jurisprudence, but it was moribund from the 1880's until just about the 1980's. So most information on it is going to focus on late twentieth century law articles and court decisions. I think the title and the overal tone and scope of the article should highlight the evolution of the concept. I have been researching the Indian Land Trust and how sovereignty can operate within the trust and have much I would like to bring here, if ever I find the time, but I just wanted to make a start now. I actually just made one minor edit to the Johnson v. M'Intosh cite in order to have it appear correctly and link it to the wiki article on the case (which also needs some work). Case names are always cited in short version. Only the last names of the primary plaintiff and defendants are used. But I think this is a very exciting issue and with a lot more work this will be a great article. Nepal Tree

I just made a significant revision of the introduction. I wanted to simplify the language and the concept. This article is clearly about US Tribal sovereignty at the moment. We might change the title graphic or just leave it incomplete until someone can contriute material on Canada and Latin America. It is pretty clear from the main article as well as the talk page that this is very much an undeveloped article. Nepal Tree 04:47, 15 July 2006 (UTC)

I don't normally do editing or talking on wiki pages, but I wanted to note that in terms of the US eccentricities of this article, the United States is one of the few (if not only) nations in the Americas to recognize sovereignty of tribal governments, whereas within other nations (especially those of Latin America) autonomy and self-determination are being striven for with the hope that it may lead to sovereignty. -- 09:11, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

U.S. v. Lara[edit]

The section on jurisdiciton over non-member Indians needs to be completely revised. Lara is the most important case on the matter at the moment, as it was decided most recently and expressly acknowledged Congress 1990 Act to overturn Duro. Lara is also extremely significant for generally expanding the federal recognition of a tribe's inherent authority to control events within its own jurisdiction. I just wanted to mention it here before I did anything to the section to get some feedback from anyone else. My sense is that Duro and some of the other cases do not need to be cited in such detail, while Lara should be beefed up to reveal how powerfully Justice Breyer connected expansive criminal jurisdiction to the inherent authority of tribes. Nepal Tree 05:01, 15 July 2006 (UTC)


arent amish also given tribal SoveREIgnety too?

The Amish are not an indigenous people. The current Amish are descendants of European immigrants. They are U.S. citizens, and the residents of the state, county, and municipality in which they reside. They do not have a government structure separate from the state and municipal areas in which they live. They may choose to live in a culture isolated from modern American culture, but they are not a sovereign and politically autonomous entity like recognized indigenous tribes.Nepal Tree 20:51, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
Nepal Tree is quite right. I'm aware this comment is eight years old now, but I did want to add a little further clarification for whomever may be interested, should they happen upon this page. While the Amish have no particularly special status of sovereignty, they do have special legal status in some circumstances, due to their religious beliefs (far and above most other groups).

They cannot be conscripted into military service. They are exempt from some taxes and obligations to hold insurance. I'm not sure of what specific taxes they're not required to pay, but I have been told this by Amish acquaintances of mine. I'm fairly sure they aren't required to have any form of insurance; this ties them to world at large, and they have a generally strong belief in predestination; e.g. if your home burns down, God intended it to happen. They are also generally given leeway to attend to matters of civil (and even criminal) law within their communities; however, this is not official, and is just a de facto practice. Generally, this is handled by confessing your "sin" before the community, and then being forgiven. This extends to some pretty serious crimes that would earn people long prison sentences in the outside world, unfortunately. However, if someone from within the community calls the police, they police will (usually) respond to the call (yes, Amish can and do use phones in an emergency). In some cases, this is probably as much out of fear of a public outcry for inserting themselves into the Amish community as it is in respecting their way of life. Most Amish themselves don't generally recognize the authority of the United States in any matter relating to them, but tow the line in order to be left alone. So they pay what taxes are required of them without complaining. Just FYI. Have a great day, everyone!

Page move[edit]

Any opposed to moving this page to "Tribal sovereignty in the United States" so the US-centric tag can be removed? The concept used elsewhere is surely going to be significantly different, so articles on tribal sovereignty (or lack thereof) can be created for each significant area. OzLawyer 20:25, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

Sounds good to me. In the past 6 weeks I can't say anyone other than you and me has taken much interest in this page anyway.Nepal Tree 03:16, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Need Cites[edit]

The section titled "defining jurisdiction" fails to list the actual court case it is discussing. The case about the two Oglala Sioux convicted of adultry is, I believe, Iron Crow v. Oglala Sioux Tribe, 231 F.2d 89 (8th Cir. 1956). A cite to this case would be helpful for researchers. Thanks.

Tribal immunity from suit[edit]

Something should be added in this article addressing current cases dealing with Indian sovereignty. For example, in December 2006 the California Supreme Court defended the Fair Political Practices Commission's right to sue the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians for failing to report $7.5 million in campaign contributions in 1998, ~$150K in 2001 and ~$460K in 2002. This case is redefining Tribal sovereign immunity doctrine, which has so far been upheld. The decision cited states' rights to deal with matters not delegated to the United States by the Constitution and those not prohibited to them by it (10th Amendment) as well as the guarantee clause (Article IV, section 4) that provides states to right uphold a republican form of government. Should the case be reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court (should they grant cert) tribes would be able to make political donations and campaign contributions unfettered by state fair political practices rules - seeing as there is no enforcement mechanism. If the California Supreme Court's decision prevails, we could see further developments in the direction of hold tribes accountable for political activities and liable for breaking laws in off-reservation matters - which has been a long time coming to say the least. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 19:06, 24 January 2007 (UTC).

Having read the article and the discussion page I think that these kind of articles should be written and/or edited by people with legal training. The gist of what has been presented is pretty much accurate, but the origins, key decisions and issues have not been fully realised. To begin with, treaty making in North America began in the 1600's between the Dutch and the Iroquois (the double row wampum). The principles espoused in the Johnson v. McIntosh case established the doctrine of Aboriginal Title which has significant implications in Canada and New Zealand, as well as providing guidance in Australia via the Mabo decision. The plenary authority of the US Congress, which significantly curbs tribal sovereignty, was legally espoused by the Supreme Court in the case of U.S. v. Kagama (1886). Most, but not all, modern tribal governments are following structures and tribal constitutions promulgated under the Indian Reorganisation Act passed in the 1930's. The definitive work on Federal Indian Law was written by Felix Cohen and first published in the 1940's. The current edition (can't remember the exact date) is an annotated version of the original. The version edited by the BIA in the 1950's has been widely denounced. In summary, this area needs alot of work.

Wabus44 12:21, 26 April 2007 (UTC)

Clarification Needed[edit]

The last sentence in the first paragraph states "[n]ot all nations agree with the United States' view of them". This sentence is vague and confusing. My assumption is that it means that not all tribal nations agree with the United States' view of tribal sovereignty, but it could also have other meanings, such as not all foreign nations agree with the United States' view of tribal nations within the U.S. border. If it is the former, it should be written as such. If it is the latter, I believe it should have a citation. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:41, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

This does need a citation, and I did a {fact} tag on it... Dinkytown talk 00:30, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

Tribal law[edit]

Tribal Law redirects to this article. Clearly, this is a much broader topic than in the U.S. only... Time to create Tribal law and develop it in the broader sense? Thanks, DA Sonnenfeld (talk) 15:04, 25 February 2013 (UTC)

Because many jurisdictions treat tribal sovereignty differently (and even have different terms for it—First Nations and aboriginals come to mind) a better course would be for whoever cares to make articles for jurisdictions that interest them and then set up a disambiguation page that can be used to navigate to various jurisdictions. (talk) 14:21, 21 August 2013 (UTC)

Incorrect Map[edit]

The map of the United States excluding Indian reservations inaccurately excludes Osage County in Oklahoma. The Tenth Circuit clarified in Osage Nation v. Irby, 597 F.3d 1117 (10th Cir. 2010), cert denied, that the Osage Allotment Act of 1906 ended their reservation status (despite the tribe's retention of the infamous Osage mineral estate). Someone should edit the map to accurately reflect the status of Osage County. (talk) 14:18, 21 August 2013 (UTC)

Cleanup Reasons[edit]

Could someone review the section with the Cleanup tag and identify specific problems? (talk) 23:05, 17 April 2014 (UTC)

Just curious[edit]

Just out of curiosity... Is there any sort of movement among First Nations / Native Americans that lobbies for full sovereignty? I know the concept is ridiculous, as many of these nations rely on economic and logistical federal support, don't have any natural resources to speak of, aren't in a position to establish embassies, etc. But if there is some group or even an activist trying to achieve this, I'd be interested to know. Thanks in advance. :)


Hi all. This is a basic call to action for review of WP:COI content, so hopefully we can have it be neutrally vetted for neutrality and accuracy, and proper formatting. Please read the posting here about WP:COI contributions to this article, and follow up here. It applies to this and several other articles. — Smuckola (Email) (Talk) 10:57, 18 February 2015 (UTC)


The article misses some remaining treaty land and fails to note the legal code that allows them to give up citizenship to retain land and rights at their choosing. It's an incomplete view of what's written into law. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:30, 30 March 2015 (UTC)