Understanding Tribal Governments
The Congress shall have power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with Indian the tribes
Article 1, Section 8 United States Constitution
Indian Nations have always been considered as distinct, independent political communities, retaining their original natural rights, as the undisputed possessors of the soil The very term nation so generally applied to them, means a people distinct from others.
Chief Justice John Marshall United States Supreme Court Worcester v. Georgia
31 US (6 Pet.) 515, 561 (1832)
The utmost good faith shall always be observed toward the Indians; their land and property shall never be taken away from them without their consent but laws founded in justice and humanity shall from time to time be made, for preventing wrong to them
Northwest Ordinance of 1789
During the years of 1774 until 1832, treaties were devised between individual sovereign American Indian nations and the United States. These agreements negotiated to create borders and prescribe conditions of behavior between the parties, (primarily the United States government assigning the laws). The settlement was agreed upon by both sides and signed into law until 1871 when the House of Representatives abolished the act of entering into treaties with the Native Americans. March 3, 1871 the Indian Appropriations Act was established in replacement of the prior agreements with the attached rider, U.S. Code 25. Thus, the Indian Appropriations Act formed a new era in Federal-tribal relations. The Act ended the forming of treaties with tribes as so called, sovereign nations.
Thus, the continued fallacy to help the natives becomes the control of the natives and their resources. This begins with the term “treaty” implying a contract between sovereign independent nations. However, natives were held in a permanent position of inequality and dependence, not as, or allowed to be negotiators. The inequality is the basis for the ongoing battles for the first nations to control their lands, rights, and tribal sovereignty.
The precursor to the Indian Appropriation Act of 1871, was the 1851 Indian Appropriations Act, which gave birth to the premise of reservations and placing the Indians on these lands. The U.S. government used the guise of protection to place the Indians on reservations.
According to Shawn Regan, in 5 Ways the Government Keeps Native American’s in Poverty, Chief Justice John Marshall decreed the relationship between Indians and the government as “resembling that of a ward to his guardian.” With this statement, Marshall established the federal trust doctrine, which assigns the government as the trustee of Indian affairs. That trusteeship continues today, but it has not served Indians well. Underlying this doctrine is the notion that tribes are not capable of owning or managing their lands. The government is the legal owner of all land and assets in Indian Country and is required to manage them for the benefit of Indians.
The design of these articles has done nothing more than create a tight hold on the Indian’s land and resources while creating a sovereign nation, which is anything but sovereign. As the 21st Century swept in, so did the protection of assets and resources. The more E.P.A. restrictions that have been enacted, so to are the “grabbing up” of land and eminent domain of the property. Long in the history of the Native American’s has there been mass movement of Indian’s from one geographical area to another. This is solely dependent on what was discovered and desired on the sovereign Indian tribal grounds. As the government needs the resources, the reservations are re-appropritated to a less desirable area.
Going forward in the next post, the natural resources and the extortion and mis-handling of the Indian’s lands, rights and resources will be further analyzed. The political climate is primed for more misappropriation of resources and devastating effects on the Indian’s and their lands.