Native American Rights

November 19, 2021 • Volume 31, Issue 41
Should tribes have more sovereignty over their lands?
By Christina L. Lyons


Native Americans in Oklahoma won the right to assert jurisdiction over some criminal activity on their reservations after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that the federal government must honor promises in 19th century treaties with tribes, a decision some say could potentially give tribes more sovereignty over their ancestral lands. The ruling has heightened a controversy over how to make reparations to nearly 10 million Native Americans, whose ancestors suffered injustices that cost them millions of acres of tribal lands and restricted their ability to conserve resources and provide for their members. Tribes are disproportionately affected by extreme weather exacerbated by climate change. Native leaders also want the courts or Congress to fix the jurisdictional morass that results in Native American women suffering from the nation's highest rates of violent crimes, often committed by non-Natives. Such issues have spurred a Land Back movement, with many of the 575 tribes seeking to regain ancestral lands. But state officials and non-Native businesses, property owners and others fear losing access to revenues and natural resources and want to ensure that their rights are protected.

Photo of Native American protester being detained by Secret Service officers in Washington, D.C., on October 11, 2021. (Getty Images/Anna Moneymaker)
Secret Service officers detain a demonstrator at an Indigenous Peoples' Day march in front of the White House on Oct. 11. Many of the nation's 575 Indigenous tribes want to regain control of their former territories, but many states, businesses and property owners fear losing their own rights to those lands and the natural resources they contain. (Getty Images/Anna Moneymaker)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Native Americans
Nov. 19, 2021  Native American Rights
May 05, 2017  Native American Sovereignty
Apr. 28, 2006  American Indians Updated
Jul. 12, 1996  Native Americans' Future
May 08, 1992  Native Americans
Jan. 18, 1991  Is America Allowing Its Past to Be Stolen?
Feb. 17, 1984  American Indian Economic Development
Apr. 15, 1977  Indian Rights
Nov. 08, 1972  Preservation of Indian Culture
Aug. 24, 1966  American Indians: Neglected Minority
May 26, 1954  Changing Status of American Indians
Apr. 13, 1949  Problems of the American Indian
Apr. 22, 1929  The Administration of Indian Affairs
Affirmative Action
Civil Rights: Native Americans
Civil Wars
Climate Change
Congress Actions
Crime and Law Enforcement
Criminal Law Procedure and Due Process
Domestic Issues
Economic Development
Energy Policy
Fair Housing and Housing for Special Groups
Federal Taxes
General Social Trends
Historic Preservation
Income Tax
Land Resources and Property Rights
National Parks and Reserves
Oil and Natural Gas
Party Politics
Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Property Tax
Protest Movements
Regional Planning and Urbanization
Sales Tax
Sentencing and Corrections
State and Local Taxes
Supreme Court History and Decisions
Tax Exemption
Tribal Government
Unemployment and Employment Programs