Tribal Agenda

Summary Quotes – Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Hearing
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Transcript
Impact of Supreme Court Rulings on Law Enforcement in Indian Country
Tribal Governance and Economic Enhancement Initiative, A 2003 Legislative Proposal
Draft Text : Tribal Governance and Economic Enhancement Initiative

CERA Documents Addressing S.578

CERA Press Release on S.578
CERA letter to Senator Collins on S.578
CERA Fact Sheet on S.578
CERA letter to Congress on S.578
The Resource Sentinel Press Release on S.578

The Tribal Governance and Economic Enhancement Initiative

aka “The Hicks Fix”
aka “Tribal Sovereignty Initiative”

The term “Hicks Fix” is derived form a United States Supreme Court decision known as Nevada v. Hicks. The Court ruling involves a recent jurisdictional dispute between the State of Nevada and the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe. The Court ruled in favor of the State of Nevada and against the Tribe.

This Supreme Court decision was one of several Supreme Court decisions since 1978 that, in effect, ruled that tribal governments are attempting to exercise sovereignty beyond the limits allowed by law. Contrary to the position espoused by tribal leaders that the Supreme Court has conspired to curtail tribal powers, we feel the Supreme Court decision have done exactly what the Constitution requires; interpret the nation’s laws and require those laws to comply with Constitutional principals.

Since the modern tribal sovereignty movement began in the 1970s, tribal governments have been attempting to extend their jurisdiction over non-Indians and their private land on reservations. The US Supreme Court ruled in the 1978 case OLIPHANT v. SUQUAMISH INDIAN TRIBE, 435 U.S. 191 , that tribal sovereignty does not generally extend to non-Indians and their activities on private property within Indian reservations.

Tribes do not like court rulings that limit their concept of tribal sovereignty. Tribes from across the nation are now joining together, meeting with members of Congress, key House and Senate Committees and key political party leaders to plan a legislative assault to overturn these decisions of the United States Supreme Court!

Currently, tribal jurisdiction is generally restricted to tribal members and specific areas of land that tribes or tribal members own in fee title or federal trust. The current “Tribal Sovereignty Initiative” lobbying effort will be an attempt to pass legislation allowing tribes unbridled, uncontested and complete power over all persons and activities taking place on Indian reservations, tribally owned property and areas outside their reservations that the tribes would define as having an “Indian character”. The most current name for this proposed legislation is “Tribal Governance and Economic Enhancement Initiative”.

If this type of legislation is passed, non-member (non-Indian) property owners will fall subject to tribal jurisdiction for most regulatory, civil and criminal matters. This would include, to name a few, building codes, land use zoning, hunting and fishing regulations, traffic enforcement, property taxation and many more. In most states, this type of legislation might bring non-Indians, running afoul of tribal laws, into tribal court for criminal proceedings. Non-Indians facing such a dilemma might be shocked to find that most tribes are not bound by the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Legal rights you thought you had may be worthless in tribal court. Non-Indians would, as usual, be denied the right to vote in the elections of the very tribal government that is so eager to have jurisdiction over them. Many non-member residents of Indian reservation would then become “resident aliens” within tribal territories.

Indian tribal governments are greatly subsidized by the federal government. Tribes receive funding and grants for literally hundreds of federal and state programs. For example, the federal government provides tribes with grants and funds to administer environmental programs administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Tribal health care is provided by the federal Indian Health Service. If it were not for the support of the US federal government, most Indian tribal governments would financially collapse. Most of the 567 federally recognized Indian tribes could not exist without the huge amounts of federal funding and assistance.

We, at CERA, are incensed that tribal leaders and members of Congress would even consider legislation that would disenfranchise the hundreds of thousands of non-members land owners residing within the expanded notion of “Indian Country” and exert joint tribal/federal jurisdiction over these people while denying them their voting, property and Constitutional rights and protections.

We expect the United States Supreme Court would, if this legislation is passed, rule this scheme un-constitutional!

If you are a non-member resident of an Indian reservation or a tribal member concerned about your individual rights, you should read how elected leaders plan to increase tribal jurisdiction over you, private property and activities within and beyond federally recognized Indian reservations. These elected officials are proposing that non-Indians should be made subject to tribal courts and tribal laws despite the fact that US Constitutional protections have no force in Indian reservations.