Learn How Tribal Law is Recognized and How It Affects Development Planning

The state of California is home to 108 federally recognized Native American tribes and approximately 84 non-recognized tribes. Federally recognized and non-federally recognized Native American tribes both have unique political governments. Non-federally recognized tribes continue to practice their traditional Native American forms of government, and lack official recognition from the United States government. Federally recognized tribes have Native American governmental authority over their lands. For purposes of this guide, LD-IGR addresses governments under the jurisdictions of federally recognized tribes.

Thirty-two of the fifty-eight counties in California have a minimum of one federally recognized Native American tribe. Of the 12 Caltrans Districts, 10 have a minimum of one legally recognized tribe. Approximately two-thirds of the federally recognized Native American tribes own gaming operations, which have been provided for since the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). Gaming operations have led to increased economic developments for the Native American tribes affiliated.

Statewide LD-IGR Program Guide Tribal Development Projects maintain projects for housing and better health and increased social services for tribal members. Tribes without gaming funds are also expanding their members’ housing improvements and health and social services as resources become available. Tribes exercising their inherent sovereign right to undertake economic development and necessary transportation requirements on and off Indian land, Caltrans and locals must work closely with tribes in planning.

Only an express act of the U.S. Congress or U.S. Supreme Court can affect a tribe’s sovereignty. Further, Congressional power is not absolute but has limitations. Not all laws and policies aimed at governing the relationship between the U.S. Government and Indian law or federal Indian law affect all tribes in the same way.

A tribe’s ability to create and enforce laws varies from state to state and tribe to tribe. California state courts can hear some civil matters while others are under jurisdiction of the federal courts or the tribes.

Contact Coachella Valley Tribal Attorneys for Help with Your Tribal Case Needs

For clarification or further information, contact our Coachella Valley tribal attorneys. If you need representation for land use and zoning within a California tribal area, contact our Coachella Valley Native American trust lawyers.