Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Tribal Sovereignty Definition:

(USA) A doctrine which recognizes Indian tribes' inherent powers to self-govern, to determine the structure and internal operations of the governing body itself, and exemption from state law that would otherwise infringe upon this sovereignty.

Related Terms: Tribal Sovereign Immunity

In Aroostock, Justice Lipez of the United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit) wrote:

"Tribal sovereignty is a common law doctrine recognizing tribes' inherent powers to self-govern, including the power to determine the structure and internal operations of the governing body itself, and exempting tribes from state law that would otherwise infringe upon this sovereignty.

"Tribal sovereign immunity is a common law doctrine providing that tribes are immune from lawsuits or quasi-judicial proceedings without their consent or Congressional waiver."

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