Eleven autonomous Tribal Nations surrounded by the state of Wisconsin?
According to Larry Nesper a recent guest lecturer in the Tribal Libraries Archives and Museums class, “when you’re on a reservation you’re in a different kind of place.” He talked to us about American Indian Law. Nesper explained that American Indian Tribes are sovereign, self-ruled governments. He emphasized the importance of what that really means:
- Essentially, Tribes entered into treaty relationships with the United States government back in the middle 1800’s (some unofficial de-facto agreements occurred in the 1700’s)
- Tribes have the right of occupancy within the United States
- Tribes have a unique situation in that they are considered a domestic nation within the body politic of the United States yet, they are dependent upon the federal government for protection
Nesper says that “Tribes have curtailed some of their treaty rights because the United States invented this notion of rights of dominion.” This means that the federal government states that Indians cannot sell their land UNLESS they sell it to the United States.
Native people have a long and complicated relationship with the United States. However, Native people are strong, proud, and determined to live their lives on their own terms.
In addition to listening to our distinguished guest speaker, I visited the Wisconsin State Law Library online and found an excellent Tribal Law resource http://wilawlibrary.gov/topics/triballaw.php Please click on the link provided for a wealth of information about Wisconsin’s eleven Tribal courts. You can also learn about codes, constitutions, legal opinions and treaties. I personally enjoyed reading about the Oneida Tribal Judicial System and well as the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council that includes the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians.
- Jeanetta Pegues