What Sovereignty Means to Us

Federally-recognized tribes in the United States are considered “domestic dependent nations”– political entities with wide powers of self-governance.  Federally recognized Indian tribes possess the inherent right to enact laws and be governed by them, even though they’re within the borders of the United States.

The self-governance and sovereign rights that tribes enjoy include:

  • The right to form their own government.
  • The power to create and apply both civil and criminal laws.
  • The power to tax.
  • The power to establish membership.
  • The right to license, zone, and regulate activities.
  • The power to engage in commercial activity.
  • The power to exclude persons (Indian and non-Indian) from tribal territories.
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