In the Spotlight

News & Features

Broken Trust: Civil Rights in Indian Country
Feature Stories | Minnesota Tribes Map | Whose Land Is It? | Online Resources | Home
A Short History of Indian Civil Rights
By Melanie Sommer - April 2001
The relationship between Indian tribes and the federal and state governments is long, complex, and fraught with controversy. Over the past 300 years, federal policy toward Indians has changed direction many times. It can be difficult to discern what those policies are, since there are more than 4,000 separate statutes on the books which apply to American Indians.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has summarized the main developments in the constitutional rights of American Indians in this report.

1. Introduction

2. Sources of Federal Power

3. Tribal Sovereignty

4. Powers of Tribal Self-Government

5. Hunting and Fishing Rights

6. Domestic Relations

7. Taxation

8. Legal Status of Indian Individuals

9. Protections in the Tribal Setting

10. 1968 Indian Bill of Rights

11. Rights and Privileges of State Citizenship

12. Wardship