Myths and Realities of Tribal Sovereignty: The Law and Economics of Indian Self-Rule

51 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2004

See all articles by Joseph P. Kalt

Joseph P. Kalt

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Joseph William Singer

Harvard Law School

Date Written: March 18, 2004

Abstract

The last three decades have witnessed a remarkable resurgence of the American Indian nations in the United States. The foundation of this resurgence has been the exercise of self-government - sovereignty - by the more than 560 federally-recognized tribes in the U.S. In this study, we explore legal and economic dimensions of current perceptions of and debates over the nature and extent of tribal self-rule in the United States. Our objective is to clarify and illuminate by distinguishing between myth and reality. We address key threads of thought and assumption that pervade, accurately or inaccurately, discussions in the public policy arena. What emerges is a picture in which tribes do exercise substantial, albeit limited, sovereignty. This sovereignty is not a set of "special" rights. Rather, its roots lie in the fact that Indian nations pre-exist the United States and their sovereignty has been diminished, but not terminated. Tribal sovereignty is recognized and protected by the U.S. Constitution, legal precedent, and treaties, as well as applicable principles of human rights.

Keywords: Intergovernmental Relations, International Development, Law and Legal Institutions

Suggested Citation

Kalt, Joseph P. and Singer, Joseph W., Myths and Realities of Tribal Sovereignty: The Law and Economics of Indian Self-Rule (March 18, 2004). KSG Working Paper No. RWP04-16. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=529084 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.529084

Joseph P. Kalt (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Joseph W. Singer

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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