The United States Moral Trust Responsibility to Indian Peoples


In this era of tribal self-annihilation and self-termination, it is no longer easy to answer fundamental questions of tribal existence, like: Who's the tribe (qua tribal council)? Who's a tribal member?

Two centuries of federal laws designed to dispossess Indians of land and terminate tribes (i.e., Treaties, Dawes Act, Burke Act, IRA, P.L. 280) have converged to greatly confuse such questions. In particular, the federally prescribed dissolution of tribal cash assets on a "pro rata" or "per capita" basis over the last 110 years (Lacey Act of 1906, IGRA) has been especially destructive to tribal governments and communities.


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