Steven Newcomb: No plenary power over the tribal nations

"For generations now, Indian Country has been conditioned to believe and act upon the false view that the United States Congress has plenary power over all Indian affairs, and, by implication, over Indian Nations. This has resulted in our Indian Nations being wrongly deprived of the free exercise of our rights and liberty, and of the vast majority of our traditional territories across the length and breadth of the continent. This has been due in large part to the assumption about U.S. plenary power that has wrongfully empowered U.S. courts, congressional committees, and the U.S. presidency in relation to Indian Nations.

However, we are about to experience a massive shift in our understanding of federal Indian law and policy: In 1991, attorney Mark Savage published “Native Americans and the Constitution: The Original Understanding.” (American Indian Law Review, Vol. 16, No. 1, p. 57.) In 1993 he published, “The Great Secret About Federal Indian Law—Two Hundred Years in Violation of the Constitution—And the Opinion the Supreme Court Should have Written to Reveal it.” (N.Y.U Review of Law Social Change, Vol. 20, No. 2, p. 343) In the second article Mr. Savage states:

One morning, a few years ago, I discovered evidence that the United States has apparently overlooked for these past two hundred years. On August 18, 1787, during the secret deliberations of the Federal Convention, James Madison proposed a plenary power over relations with Native American nations. The Framers expressly rejected such plenary power and instead greatly limited federal power to the regulation of commerce between the United States and Native American nations.”"

Get the Story:
Steven Newcomb: No Plenary Power Over Indian Nations (Indian Country Today 11/14)

Related Stories:
Steven Newcomb: Model of liberty from the Indian nations (10/19)
Steven Newcomb: A tribal perspective for Occupy Wall Street (10/13)
Steven Newcomb: US, Canada continue to occupy Native lands (9/30)
Steven Newcomb: Dominance at core of federal Indian laws (9/12)
Steven Newcomb: Greed motivated taking of indigenous lands (8/29)
Steven Newcomb: University holding onto Kumeyaay ancestors (8/22)

Join the Conversation