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Opinion
Editorial: Supreme Court passes on sovereignty


"Tribes naturally guard their sovereignty jealously and resist any effort to slice away at it, yet the idea that they are completely sovereign is disproved at many turns

In deciding not to hear a case involving the Pechanga Indians last week, the U.S. Supreme Court missed a prime opportunity to help clarify the muddle that surrounds the complex issue of Indian sovereignty, to establish a policy roadmap that could have helped guide state, federal and even local governments deep into this century.

The question before the court was simple enough: Do California courts have jurisdiction over tribal enrollments? An extended family recently ousted from the tribe had sued to stop the process. A state trial court said yes, an appeals court said no and the state Supreme Court basically shrugged and said "Don't ask us.""

Get the Story:
A missed opportunity (The Californian 5/28)

Case Documents:
Salinas v. LaMere (Native American Rights Fund)

California Appeals Court Decision:
Lamere v. Superior Court (August 8, 2005)

Relevant Links:
Pechanga Tribal Disenrollment - http://www.pechanga.info
Bureau-of-Indian-Affairs.com, Disenrollment site - http://www.bureau-of-indian-affairs.com

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