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date: 31 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores constitutional principles that underlie self-determination policies for Native Americans. It first outlines the four eras of federal Indian law and policy: the colonial era (1700–1770s), the treaty era (1780s–1871), the post-treaty era (1887-1970s), and the self-determination era (1970-present). It then examines the foundational principles of federal Indian law, with particular emphasis on federal government supremacy in Indian affairs and Indian nations’ inherent government authority. It also explains the terms “Indian” and “Indian tribe” or “Indian nation” before turning to a discussion of federal-tribal relations, state-tribal relations, tribal governance, and American Indian law in light of developing international law principles. Finally, the chapter considers challenges faced by Indian nations and Indian people, especially with respect to the conflict between the federal government’s commitment to self-determination and Indian tribes’ continued dependence on federal appropriations and administration.

Keywords: self-determination, Native Americans, Indian law, Indian affairs, Indian nations, government authority, federal-tribal relations, state-tribal relations, tribal governance, international law

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