Tribes being used to expand Federal jurisdiction over states

PERM and Mille Lacs Equal Rights Foundation have jointly filed an Amicus Brief on the Mille Lacs reservation boundary ruling. The Brief supports Mille Lacs County’s appeal of the Eighth Circuit court’s ruling that the entire long-disestablished 61,000-acre reservation still exists.

PERM early on committed to a well-argued Brief, counting on our members’ support. Now, thanks to your generous response, you have ensured that commitment.

The Amicus Brief is outstanding! Never before has the basis for “tribal sovereignty” been explored going back over 160 years.

From the beginning of the United States, the Federal government had to manage non-state territories and relations with Indian tribes throughout the country. In the run up to the Civil War and after, the issue of slavery divided the country. It also started to unravel the efforts to manage the non-state territories. The struggle to end or preserve slavery was just as fierce but even more difficult in the less legally structured territories.

Powers given to the Federal government, under the Territorial War Powers Acts to address the situation, eventually led to emancipation across the states and territories. Later, after the Civil War, such powers, having served their purpose, were soon forgotten. But they were never sunsetted as they should have been.

That is, until around 1950 when Congressman Richard Nixon discovered them as a basis for projecting more federal jurisdiction over the states. This occurred at a time when tribal leaders were chafing under their status as “wards of the state.” Tribal leaders recognized they were not given the same level of civil rights enjoyed by all other American citizens.

Nixon’s strategy took advantage of tribal unrest and the potential for expanded Federal jurisdiction to launch “tribal sovereignty,” a concept endlessly exploited to this day. Nixon’s tactic in the process superseded the 10th Amendment, states’ rights, and states’ sovereignty.

The legal basis for tribal sovereignty is even flimsier than it appears here but can be seen in the Amicus Brief itself, available for download–in its original format–HERE.

It is possible that grounds for further development of the Brief’s argument could come in Supreme Court rulings in the next few weeks. The deadline for an Amicus Brief’s submission in the Reservation boundary case could not accommodate these possibilities. If Supreme Court rulings are favorable, we must do everything we can to take advantage of them.

We hope that you will continue your support for expenses related to filing the brief. And to support ongoing legal analysis needed to take advantage of potentially key Supreme Court decisions due by the end of June.

PERM has long stood for honoring all treaties as written and equal protection of the law for ALL citizens.

MERF supports Citizens Equal Rights Alliance, which takes a similar position, expressed as Many Peoples, Many Cultures, One Law.