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Chumash Chair: Tribes are sovereign governments

"Native American tribes were independent, self-governing communities long before the arrival of the European nations. The government-to-government relationship between tribal governments and the federal government has existed since the formation of the United States. The U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 states: To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.

The federal government deals with Native American tribes as governments - not as special interest groups, not as individuals, and not as other entities. In the same manner as the U.S. deals with states as governments, it also deals with Native American tribes as governments.

Tribes are also set up internally as governments with tribal government leaders elected into office by tribal members of voting age. At our tribe, five individuals are elected into office to serve on the tribe's Business Committee, which includes the Tribal Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary/Treasurer and two Business Committee members at large. Tribal elections are held every two years.

Throughout the nation, tribal governments are organized to work with local, state and federal governments by building government-to-government relationships. Tribal leaders take great pride in the relationships they have developed with government agencies on a federal, state and local level."

Get the Story:
Vincent Armenta: Understanding the nature of tribal government (The Santa Maria Times 3/19)

Relevant Links:
Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians -

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