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Old 04-21-2004, 12:56 PM   #1
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Tribal sovereignty?

Just a question on a legal standpoint, from a non-legally-educated perspective...

If tribes are considered "sovereign" nations, complete with their own tribal government, school system, health care system, legal system, etc, why do the tribes have "revenue sharing" agreements with states or the feds at all? Why does the Indian Gaming Act have any effect on the ability of native people to conduct gaming on their own land AT ALL? Last time I looked, I don't need to abide by any laws passed in Canada or Mexico, yet they are also other "soverign nations"?

From my understanding, all the tribes could do as they d**m well please, and uncle Sam couldn't do anything about it. Except to withold education, health care, and/or trust fund monies, which at least SHOULD be illegal, since such things are governed by treaties. Rather like you can't prohibit parental child visitation from a non-custodial parent in a divorce case, simply because they have not paid support. You can't withold something you are required to provide WITHOUT EXCEPTIONS.

Perhaps just another case of "pick and choose" government policy designation... They pick the policy to govern at the moment, in order to use whatever policy is the "flavor of the month". For instance, the Supremes rule that the tribes are a "separate soverign" in order to justify a second prosecution for Billy Jo Lara, yet Navahos in New Mexico are forced to pay "withheld revenue sharing money" they should never have been made to pay in the first place. Just wait, next time the "soverign" designation gets in the way, they'll overturn again, yet BJL will still be stuck in a federal pen somewhere.

The Black Hills were taken over by the govt in opposition to signed treaties, yet now there is some sort of "negotiation" to get the land back??! How exactly do you "negotiate" to get back something that was stolen from you in the first place? If my neighbors forced me out of my house at gunpoint, and then "sold" my house to somebody else, why would I be required to "negotiate" for the thieves to return the property?

Sorry for the rant, but it seems to me like "tribal sovereignty" is just a joke the feds use to justify whatever programs they want to push, whenever they want. When a time comes that true sovereignty is inconvenient, they just ignore it.

Tom
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Old 04-23-2004, 01:49 PM   #2
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Sovereignty lost

Unfortunately, you are pretty much totally accurate in your assesmet of both what Tribal Sovereignty is and how the US Gov views it. Even though you claim to not have any legal education, you seem to have a good understanding of the 'intent of the law'...

Here's what happened to the 'Sovereignty' that many Nations once enjoyed. Slowly, over time, it was assumed to be relenquished through passive inactivity. Just as in real property, adverse posession is seems to have been used to assume that any property (or right) that is not exercised by it's owner can be taken over by another. In this case, the US and STATE governments have taken the rights of the Native Americans because we let them.

Most Nations that are now becoming self-sufficient but are unwilling to risk what small morsels they are given and will therefore not fight for what is rightfully theirs. Not everyone is taking a passive stance. I know of at least one Native American Family that is funding their own legal battle to prove to the courts that Native Americans are sovereign and not subjects of any STATE or Federal entity and are only bound by the treaties between the Federal Government and their own Nations, regardless of where they live!

I myself am working on a website to share this type of information to everyone who wants it and I will also offer as many services and links to Native sites that I can.
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Old 04-23-2004, 03:19 PM   #3
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Well, with all the court cases lately, it brought this to my attention, and I guess I thought it would be a bigger issue to the people over here...

For example, the Cobell case. Since the feds have proven over-and-over-and-over again what a bunch of crooked, inept ninnies that they really are at "distributing" the proceeds from contracts that utilize reservation lands, why not just kick the stinkin SOBs off the land, and require DIRECT PAYMENTS from here out? I'd expect that when a few hundred oil and gas wells get shut down, a bunch of cattle start starving, and when loggers start going out of business, the poor slobs will have to start paying up, and start payin at a marketable rate, otherwise they'll lose out, and close up.

Just think of all of the revenue that could be "found", simply by allowing the indian people to manage their own assets, instead of allowing the thieves in BIA to "manage" and tax their money. Yeah right! Another case of the gov't fox guarding the NDN golden-egg chicken coop.

And since when do "rights" become non-existant just because they are not regularly "used"? Even if this was a sensible thing, who gets to decide who can delegate everybody else's "unused" rights? Does that mean for instance that, since the feds apparently own the mineral rights under my home (as far as I know, almost all property deeds are this way, unless some special "mineral rights are granted by "simple deed"), and to my knowledge they've never drilled for oil there, or dug a strip mine, or anything else for that matter, that I can simply claim those rights for myself? Just watch how fast I'd get sued as soon as I hit a gusher! Of course, if I drilled and found nothing, that's just my loss... They'd still claim all my equipment when I went bankrupt though...

Tom
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Old 04-23-2004, 08:20 PM   #4
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It is a big issue.. .but alot of us already knew the conclusion you came to... and agree. There are different types of battles over this too. Some are fighting this issue in NY because they want to impose on the native business owners a law that has us collect taxes from non natives on our own land for the state Of NY... funny, I don't see anyone at the bridge collecting taxes from canada when americans go across and buy stuff... There are oniedas fighting the bia's recognition of a chief who they de-horned (took away his title) and yet because the US gov. recognizes him as their leader, he remains in power. so exactly where do you want to start with this discussion?
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