[Foundation-l] Native American Tribes Policy

Jeffrey V. Merkey jmerkey at wolfmountaingroup.com
Thu May 17 02:50:13 UTC 2007

Robert Horning wrote:

>geni wrote:
>>On 5/15/07, Jeffrey V. Merkey <jmerkey at wolfmountaingroup.com> wrote:
>>>The same applies to Native Tribes recognized by the
>>>US Government.  These tribes are sovereign governments,
>>Can they declare war? In any case the kingdom I live in does not
>>recognise them as such.
>I will admit that the status of American Indian tribes within the 
>borders of the USA is a very interesting issue.  In most cases, they 
>never gave up their independent sovereignty to the U.S. government, and 
>are technically independent nations unto themselves.  Some tribal groups 
>operate as independent entities almost as peers to American states, and 
>in many cases they even issue their own passports independent of the 
>U.S. State Department.  In one bizzare (and unfortunate) incident of an 
>American Indian tribal group in New York state, there was a group that 
>declared complete independence from the USA and even started to fire 
>weaponry at federal agents who tried to fly over the claimed territory 
>in helicopters.  

When Joe Byrd did this in the 1990's, they sent in SWAT teams and bia 
helicopters with
high powered automatic weapons, Federal Troop, and BIA police.

Byrd's goons did not get away with it either.


>And certainly many of these tribal groups did not 
>willingly join with the USA, as evidenced by the numerous conflicts 
>throughout most of the 19th Century between the armed military forces of 
>the U.S. government and these tribal groups.  Groups like the Navajo 
>Nation have completely independent legal systems of the states that 
>their reservation is located technically within, and that can be a bit 
>of a surprise when you get caught violating tribal laws like speed 
>limits on highways that cross the reservations.
>In most cases, their current status in terms of their relationship with 
>the U.S. government is established by treaty and not more typical 
>legislative act, although that has occurred as well.  I would have to 
>say, however, that if other government entities (such as current members 
>of the UN) were to independently recognize these tribal groups as fully 
>independent sovereign nations, that would be considered an act of war 
>upon the United States of America, and for some reason there are not too 
>many countries willing to deal with the consequences of that kind of action.
>The exact status of these groups (such as the Cherokee Nation that Jeff 
>associates with) is one of those unsettled political questions, but the 
>current defacto status is to treat them as American citizens if they 
>want to leave designated reservations and to otherwise treat the tribal 
>governments as independent governments.  Because state governments are 
>not able to enforce their laws within the reservations, it is a very 
>common practice for many of these tribal groups to establish a casino or 
>some other forms of gambling that may not be legal outside of the 
>reservation, and they are also noted for selling tobacco and other 
>products at much cheaper prices due to the fact that the state 
>governments can't collect the taxes from stores on the reservations.
>But as Jeff has also pointed out, there are groups that want to presume 
>this level of sovereignty when in fact they have no formal legal 
>relationship with the U.S. government or any other government entity.  
>Some of these tribal groups are legitimate in terms of having a sort of 
>historical claim and can trace ancestry to people who lived in North 
>America prior to European settlement in the 16-19th centuries.  In a 
>very few cases, they may be recognized by individual state governments 
>but not the federal government, and some smaller groups have no formal 
>recognition at all.  In the case of groups recognized by state 
>governments, they are entirely at the mercy of that state government 
>which has granted the recognition, and they can't appeal to the same 
>sort of independent sovereignty that the federally recognized groups 
>enjoy.  That means that they also must be subject to state laws.  A 
>notable example of this is Hawaii with that government's relationship 
>with native Hawaiians, which in most cases doesn't have federal 
>recognition even though state laws do recognize some unique 
>circumstances and territorial claims with those groups.
>To me, this issue that Jeff has raised seems more like a question of 
>notability standards for tribal groups, and should be treated as 
>such.when trying to decide if a given Wikipedia article deserves to be 
>kept or deleted.  While the legal issues may be significant to these 
>groups claiming sovereignty, I fail to see how this really impacts the 
>WMF if an article is written about one of these groups or even if an 
>independent language edition of Wikipedia is set up for one of these 
>groups that does not have federal recognition.  The separate edition of 
>Wikipedia is for speakers of that language, and not about sovereignty 
>issues even if many languages can be tied with a specific country or 
>government on a cultural basis.
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