Mark Van Norman: Constitution mandates respect for treaties

The preamble to the U.S. Constitution. Image from Wikipedia

Attorney Mark Van Norman explains why the U.S. Constitution demands respect for the sovereignty of Indian nations:
The Constitution’s original intent treats Indian nations and tribes as prior sovereigns, with jurisdiction over our citizens and territory. The Treaty and Supremacy Clauses embody America’s recognition of the sovereign status of “Indian nations” by affirming the earliest treaties and authorizing 370 later Indian treaties. In the phrase “Commerce … with the Indian Tribes,” the Constitution establishes a government-to-government relationship with Indian tribes. In America’s first 150 years, the Apportionment Clause treated Natives as citizens of Indian Nations, not citizens of the United States. The 14th Amendment Citizenship Clause acknowledges the “jurisdiction” of Indian nations over Indians, that is: Indian Self-Determination. The 14th Amendment Apportionment Clause affirms tribal citizens as “Indians not taxed.” As Native peoples, we should call upon the United States to honor our original treaties and the original intent of the Constitution.

From the dawn of time, our people lived as free people. The first principle of Native Democracy is this: We, the Native Peoples, from time immemorial through the present day, are the source of our sovereignty.

Indian nations were independent sovereign nations prior to the formation of the United States. Great Britain, Spain, France, and the Netherlands entered treaties with Indian nations to make peace, promote friendship and commerce, and secure recognition of colonial territory.

Get the Story:
Mark Van Norman: Founding Fathers Knew Indian Nations Are Sovereign (Indian Country Today 11/1)

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