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Sovereignty Day in Minnesota
Native American Tribes and Government







Cycles of History
Native American Tribes - US Government (and State) Relations
February 20, 2019



Sovereignty Day at the Minnesota Capitol was a lesson in the evolving, sometimes devolving, relations between Native American Tribes and the U.S. government and state governments. An urgency for understanding the background of the intergovernmental relations was conveyed by the intertwined morning presentations from Professor Tadd Johnson (Boise Forte Tribe & University of Minnesota Duluth) and Rebecca Crooks-Stratton (Shakopee Mdewakanton Community Secretary/Treasurer).

According to my notes, there have been six periods of relations between Native American Tribes and the U.S. Government (and states):  Tribal Nations (pre-U.S.), Removal, Allotment and Assimilation, Reorganization, Termination, and Self-Determination.

Under the U.S. Constitution Article 1, Section 10 -No State shall enter any treaty... (This comes right after “no Person holding any Office... shall... accept any present, Emolument... of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.) Article 2, Section 2 - [The President shall have the Power] to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur...  Article 2, Section 8 - “The Congress shall have the Power... To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations ... and with the Indian Tribes...

2 - Removal

1823 - Johnson v. M'Intosh - private citizens could not purchase land from Native Americans

1831 - Cherokee Nation v. Georgia - the Cherokee nation was like a ward to the United States

1832 - Worchester v. Georgia - laid out the relationship between tribes and the state and federal governments, stating that the federal government was the sole authority to deal with Native American Tribes

1871 - Indian Appropriations Act - end of treaty making
       U.S. House determined it set policy regarding Native Americans

3 - Allotment and Assimilation Period

boarding school period - 16 schools in Minnesota
       with graveyards next to them for all the children who died of tuberculosis

1886 - United States v. Kagama 

1887 - Dawes Act - allotment act
       land ownership or surplus lands

1889 - Nelson Act (MN Gov. Knute Nelson)
       timber lands on reservations
       lands owned by Diamond Match

1890 - December 29, 1890 - Wounded Knee Massacre, Wounded Knee Creek, SD   

1896 - bill of rights don't apply to natives (until 1968)

1903 - Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock (Secretary of Interior)
       abrogate a treaty
       plenary power

1906 - Burke Act - give up lands
       2/3rds of Indian land fell into non-Indian hands

WWI  - 9,000-12,000 Native Americans enlisted in the U.S. Army were not U.S. citizens

1924 - Native Americans are U.S. citizens (right to vote)

4 - Reorganization

1928 - Meriam Report - Allotments are not working report

1934 - Indian Reorganization Act
       trust status in perpetuity
       encourage tribes to have constitutions

1941 - Felix Cohen, Handbook on Federal Indian Law (pdf)

5 - Termination Period

1953 - Termination Policy
       end many individual tribes - starting with the Menominee  

1953 - Public Law 280
       criminal laws of 5 states apply to Indians

1956 - Indian Relocation Act
       move natives from rural to cities (with promises of skills training)

1968 - Indian Civil Rights Act
       Bill of Rights for Native Americans

1970 - Nixon tells Congress termination wasn't working

1973 - Wounded Knee siege - AIM v. Richard Wilson & broken treaties

1973 - reversed Terminations starting with the Menominee tribe

6 - Self-Determination

1975 - Indian Self-Determination Act
       tribes taking over federal programs

1978 - Santa Clara Supreme Court
       no civil rights cases before the court

1978 - Indian Child Welfare Act

1987 - Cabazon v. California
       Native American gaming

1988 - Indian Gaming Regulatory Act
       class 1 - moccasin games
       class 2 - bingo, pull tabs
       class 3 - video slots, blackjack
                 states & tribes regulate
       waiver of Johnson Act to allow gambling on reservations
       gaming money goes to - tribal governance, charitable operations, economic opportunity

1990 - Native American Graves Repatriation Act
       34,000 Native American burial remains & artifacts found in Smithsonian & other museums

1994 - Congress makes self-governance the law
       close to 50% of tribes are covered
       Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act

2015 - MN-Dot County Road 101 project through Native American burial mounds

2017 - MN-Dot Hwy 23 project through a Native American cemetery

When addressing issues in state departments and the Minnesota Legislature, remember to consult the tribes.


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Native American Tribal Leaders meet Minnesota Representatives

The picture above shows Speaker of the House of Representatives Melissa Hortman with 11 Native American tribal leaders:
Kevin Jensvold, Upper Sioux Community
Charlie Vig, Shakopee Mdewakanton
Shelley Buck, Prairie Island Indian Community
Robert Larsen, Lower Sioux Community
Sam Strong, Red Lake Nation
Alan Roy, White Earth Nation
Cathy Chavers, Boise Forte Band of Chippewa
Melanie Benjamin, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
Marie Spry, Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
Faron Jackson of Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
Kevin Dupuis, Fond du Lac Band

Tribal leaders are looking for better relations with Minnesota state and local governments, respect of tribal sovereignty, treaties honored, as well as issues specific to individual tribes, such as foster care on the Grand Portage reservation.


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