The United States has a unique and distinctive political legal relationship with Native American tribal governments as set forth in the constitution, treaties, statutes, executive orders and court decisions. Since the formation of the Union, the United States recognizes Native American tribes as domestic dependent nations under its protection. The federal government has enacted numerous statutes and promulgated numerous regulations that establish and define a trust relationship with Native American tribes. Our nation has recognizes the right of Native American tribes to self-govern. Native American tribes exercise inherent sovereign powers over their members and territory. The United States, including the State of California and Governor Brown’s Administration, will continue to work with Native American tribes on a government-to-government basis to address issues concerning Native American tribal self-government and tribal trust resources, and Indian tribal treaty and other rights.
California Legislative Information
- Early California Laws and Policies Related to California Indians (pdf), 2002, California State Library, California Research Bureau (K. Johnston-Dodds)
Federal (Congressional) Legislative Information
In the spirit of Thomas Jefferson, the United States Library of Congress launched in 1995, the THOMAS legislative database system. THOMAS was provided to make federal legislative information freely available to the public. The text, history and status of Congressional bills may be accessed at the link provided below.
Federal law established in 1953 that granted certain states criminal jurisdiction over American Indians on reservations and to allow civil litigation that had come under tribal or federal court jurisdiction to be handled by state courts. However, the law does not grant states regulatory power over tribes or lands held in trust by the United States; federally guaranteed tribal hunting, trapping, and fishing rights; basic tribal governmental functions such as enrollment and domestic relations; nor the power to impose state taxes. These states also may not regulate matters such as environmental control, land use, gambling, and licenses on federal Indian reservations. The states required by Public Law 280 to assume civil and criminal jurisdiction over federal Indian lands are: California, Minnesota (except Red Lake Nation), Nebraska, Oregon (except Warm Springs Reservation), Wisconsin (except Menominee Indian Reservation) and Alaska (except the Metlakatla Indian Community on the Annette Island Reserve, which maintains criminal jurisdiction). The federal government released all special criminal jurisdiction in these states over Indian offenders and victims. The states that elected 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).
- Chapter 14 – Indian Self-Determination Act (Public Law 93-638) as Codified and Amended contains the Indian Self-Determination Act (which authorized the process now popularly known as “638” contracting) as codified (organized by subject matter in Title 25 of the United States Code) and amended.
- Chapter 15 – Constitutional Rights of Indians
The Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA) has been amended twice since it was first enacted in 1968. It was amended first in 1986 to increase the tribal court sentencing limitation from $500 and/or 6 months in jail per offense to 1 year and $5000 per offense. It was amended again in 1990-1991 to restore tribal court criminal jurisdiction over all Indians (the so-called Congressional Duro-fix).
- Chapter 21 – Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA)
- Chapter 24 – Indian Land Consolidation (ILCA)
- Public Law 106-462 Indian Land Consolidation Act Amendments (Text, PDF) 25 USC 2201
This Act amends the Indian Land Consolidation Act.
- Chapter 26 – Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention
The Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1986.
- Chapter 29 – Indian Gaming Regulation
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) was enacted in 1988. The U.S. Supreme Court held in Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida, et al., 514 U.S. 1125 (1996), that under the U.S. Constitution’s Indian commerce clause, the U.S. Congress does not have the power to abrogate the states’ Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity from suit and that the Eleventh Amendment prevents Congress from authorizing suits in federal court by Indian tribes against states to enforce the provision in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) requiring states to negotiate in good faith.
- Chapter 30 – Indian Law Enforcement Reform
The Indian Law Enforcement Reform Act of 1990.
- Chapter 32 – Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation
The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1990.
- Chapter 34 – Indian Child Protection and Family Violence
The Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act (P.L.101-630) of 1990. The provision of the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act which requires Reporting of Child Abuse in Indian country is codified in Title 18 (Crimes) of the United States Code (18 U.S.C., Section 1169) rather than Title 25 (Indians) because the reporting of child abuse section contains criminal penalties.
- Chapter 36 – Indian Employment, Training and Related Services
Public Law 102-477 (usually referred to simply as “477”) is the Indian Employment, Training and Related Services Demonstration Act of 1992. It authorizes tribal governments to combine the federal funds which they receive under formula grant programs related to employment or the world of work under a single plan, a single budget and a single reporting system.
- Chapter 38 – Indian Tribal Justice Act
- Public Law 106-559 Indian Tribal Justice and Legal Assistance Act