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Using Third-Party Agreements to Enhance
Tribal Sovereignty



The creation of agreements with non-Indian third parties on Indian lands can have a significant impact on tribal sovereignty. This class will begin with the legal basics of sovereignty. It will then trace the historical development of lost sovereignty, address the opportunity created by Montana v. US, and then present scenarios in which the requirement for consensual agreements might be employed to enhance or retrieve lost sovereignty.

Sovereignty is diminished when third party, non-Indian interests (governmental or private) become involved on reservations. With the US Supreme Court's Montana v. US case, tribes are authorized to place significant restrictions on such third parties in consensual agreements - for example, rights of way.

This class will examine case studies to increase understanding of applicable precedents, including the Yakama Nation usage of this approach to push through a franchise arrangement with utilities on its reservation that requires utilities to pay significant recurring annual fees as well as to assist the Nation in creating and operating its own electric utility. Don’t miss out on this important information—register today!


T O P I C S   I N C L U D E
Historical Development of Sovereignty
  • Discovery to present
  • Treaty period
  • Dawes Act
  • Indian Reorganization
Relevant Legal Concepts
  • The Common Law
  • The Constitution
  • Treaties, statutes and regulations
  • Judicial decisions
  • Doctrines with unique application in Indian Country:
    • Non-Intercourse Act
    • Trusts and their enforcement
    • Scope of, and limitations on, BIA powers
    • Others
Supreme and Lower Court Precedents Affecting Sovereignty
  • Montana v. US
  • Williams v. Lee
  • Queets Band of Indians v. Washington
  • Strate v. A-1 Contractors
  • Yakima County
  • Opportunities created by “consensual relationship” test
Consensual Relationships
  • Scope of relationships with non-Indian entities on Indian lands
  • Need for consensual relationship to occupy tribal and allottee lands
  • Consequences when valid right of way is not obtained
  • American Indian Agricultural Resources Management Act and sanctions
Areas of Potential Enhancement of Sovereignty
  • Police powers:
    • Regulation
    • Zoning
    • Others
  • Control of location of facilities on Indian lands
  • Advanced approvals
Utilities on Indian Lands
  • The franchise approach
  • Legal status of franchises
  • Scope of existing utility franchises
  • Terms of common franchise agreements:
    • Term
    • Compensation
    • Rights and obligations
    • Additional sovereignty-enhancing terms
  • The Yakama Nation experience
  • Enhancing sovereignty:
    • Promoting economic development on reservation
    • PacifiCorp
    • Benton County REA
Other Methods to Enhance Tribal Sovereignty

*Topics subject to change.
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