"Rash actions of these rogue regulators and government employees prove that discrimination against Native Americans is alive and well." - Name Withheld, August 2013
The fight to preserve tribal sovereignty and treaty rights has long been at the forefront of the Native American civil rights movement. The federal government has special trust obligations to protect tribal lands and resources, protect tribal rights to self-government, and provide services necessary for tribal survival and advancement.
There are currently 562 federally recognized tribes in the U.S. Federal recognition establishes a government-to-government relationship between the federal government and the tribe. Federally recognized tribes are eligible for federal assistance programs that fund initiatives like schools and health clinics and their lands, which are sometimes held in trusts by the U.S. government, are exempt from state and local jurisdiction.
Federally recognized tribes are considered domestic dependent nations. Tribal sovereignty refers to tribes' right to govern themselves, define their own membership, manage tribal property, and regulate tribal business and domestic relations; it further recognizes the existence of a government-to-government relationship between such tribes and the federal government.
The rights of Native Americans under tribal sovereignty were first established in three opinions of Chief Justice John Marshall, commonly referred to as the Marshall Trilogy: Johnson v. M'Intosh (1823), Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1832), and Worcester v. Georgia (1832).