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Native Peoples Law

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Native Peoples Law

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What is Native or Indigenous Peoples Law?

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Anyone descended from the people who lived in America before European settlers came to the country is considered a Native American or Indigenous People. These descendants continue to exist in individual political nations across the country, many of which continue to live on land returned to them by the U.S. government known as reservations. In general, these tribal nations are considered to have the same political autonomy as the states. A total of 561 native tribes are officially recognized by the federal government, making them eligible for funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Native law can be a complicated field due primarily to the individual sovereignty each tribal nation has to self-govern their people, including the use of their own court system and enforcement of laws. Native peoples’ law also extends to native Hawaiʻians and Alaskans.

Native peoples law is generally handled by attorneys who specialize in the field and work for both the tribes themselves as well as the surrounding state in which the reservation is located to ensure fair and just treatment for each party. These attorneys handle a wide range of issues. These attorneys can assist native people in the process of opening businesses outside of a reservation; this includes helping to ensure that the business meets state guidelines and that the state and federal government upholds the treaties and laws designed to respect the rights of tribal nations. For help navigating these or similar issues, contact a Native American law attorney.

Significant Legislation for Native Peoples

There are a variety of laws in place designed to protect the rights and wellbeing of Native Peoples. For a basic overview of this field of law, it might help to understand some of the significant legislation surrounding it.

Let’s go over some important Native Peoples legislation:

  • Indian Civil Rights Act: This act is designed to prevent abuses on tribal lands and inside Native American courts. Additionally, this act is intended to provide equal protection to Native Peoples under U.S. law.
  • Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act: This act is designed to fund student programs and assist American Indian and Alaskan Natives with education funding at all grade levels.
  • American Indian Religious Freedom Act: This act is designed to protect the religious freedom of Native Peoples to practice religions and sacred ceremonies that were previously prohibited by law.
  • Native American Graves and Repatriation Act: This act is designed to protect culturally significant items that are excavated on federal or tribal lands, establishing Native Peoples’ ownership.
  • Indian Gaming Regulatory Act: This act is designed to regulate gaming on tribal land, primarily in the form of casinos.

Rights of Indigenous People

Laws regarding civil rights for indigenous peoples are constantly developing with time, and any violation of these rights should be reported. A Native Peoples law attorney can help defend an indigenous person from discrimination, pursue compensation as relevant, and fight back against persecution. The following are a collection of civil rights laid forth in the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples:

  • Human rights: Native Peoples are entitled to the same human rights and fundamental freedoms as anyone else. This includes fundamental freedoms for all members, including and specifically Native women who have previously not enjoyed the same access to these rights.
  • Collective rights: Native Peoples have the right to their own juridical, social, political, and economic systems or institutions. These rights also include Native Peoples' right to practice their own religions and use their own languages.

To learn more about Native or Indigenous Peoples Law, seek legal counsel from a Native American law attorney. Additionally, for legal questions pertaining to business between tribal and state lands, contact an attorney to discuss your options with knowledgeable support.

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