Native American Law

Tribal law differs between different tribes of Native Americans as well as differing between chapters within the tribe itself. Each tribe or chapter in many cases uses or has their own constitution for the tribal nation. For example the Minnesota Chippewa tribe has a different constitution than the Miami tribe of Oklahoma; and even the Miami tribe in Ohio has different laws than that in Oklahoma. The major difference in all of the laws is the area of jurisdiction. Each tribe or nation has their own courts and system to perform trials in accordance with tribal laws. Some tribes, such as those on reservations, have a jurisdiction of the entire reservation while others have the city or town in which they reside.

Chapters of tribes can be thought of as a sub group that is part of the tribe. Due to the American Government's actions of removing the Native Americans to reservations many tribes have been split into separate groups across the country but share a common past. These chapters operate separately from the tribe in some areas of the law, such as casinos. A group of Navajo Americans located in New Mexico can operate and build a casino within their local chapter with little to no contact with the national leaders. This provides the local chapters with the opportunity to improve their environment without a long approval process. Laws that pertain to marriage and property will also differ from chapter to chapter.

Tribal agencies handle everything from governmental law proceedings to local domestic disputes and also differ from tribe to tribe. Agencies also take care of the government funding given to tribes and how it is used. Schools and education are handled individually from chapter to chapter and is based on what income the tribal leaders have to work with. Some tribal agencies also work in lobbying the government for help and laws that will help protect the tribe. It is important to remember that not all Native American law is the same, nor is it the same between different chapters of the tribe. While most of the laws are similar the few differences are large enough that tribes need a variety of agencies and officials to carry them out.

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