Native communities have been governing themselves as nations since before the U.S. Constitution was drafted. The governments of these communities see the communities as separate nations and do not recognize the U.S. as having power over them. Within the United States, the Constitution recognizes this tribal sovereignty via the Commerce Clause and Treaty Clause.
Tribal Law and Businesses Within Tribal Land
Corporations owned by tribal members may have been created falling under either the jurisdiction of their own native law or the law of the state. Whether the law of either the tribe or the state prevails, protection against lawsuits is possible in both cases, due to the tribe’s legal sovereign status. Legal precedent says that entities conducting business on behalf of the tribe fall under this sovereignty status as well, and thus enjoy immunity from lawsuits.
When there is a question about the tribal entity’s status, consult the tribe’s legal documents. Be sure to read the tribe’s constitution and the treaty with the U.S. government. Also read any bylaws, executive and legal orders, and charters. This way, you can be assured you know the nature of the group you are interacting with or speaking for.
What Constitutes Authority in the Tribe
As a Palm Springs tribal attorney, it is important to understand what constitutes actual authority according to tribal entities. In order to conduct an action that has actual authority, the tribal council will name an individual to take that specific action, or the council will itself act on behalf of the tribe. If uncertainty remains, consult the dictates of tribal law, which will reveal the prime authority of the tribe to be referred to in order to resolve whatever questions remain.