Resolution 2019-07: Protect the Inherent Sovereign Rights of Native Tribes

WHEREAS,  Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) is an Alaska Native tribal health and social services consortium established by the Interior Alaska tribes and tribal communities, to provide a unified voice in advancing sovereign tribal governments through the promotion of physical and mental wellness, education, socioeconomic development and culture of the Interior Alaska Native; and

WHEREAS,  the First People have inhabited this great land for time immemorial, taking our healthy sustenance from the waters and lands; and

WHEREAS,  Western colonizing institutions forced boarding schools, religion and abuse on the Native people in order to forcibly assimilate the Natives into the colonial culture; and

WHEREAS, in order to legalize the mineral and lands theft from the Natives, the new comers relied on the Doctrine of Discovery which legalized the wrongful taking of tribally owned minerals, resources and lands, claiming it was the right of civilized Christian nations to take by force, all the non-Christian Natives possessed; and

WHEREAS, The Marshall Trilogy, —Johnson v. M’Intosh, 21 U.S. 543 (1823); Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, 30 U.S. 1 (1831); and Worcester v. Georgia, 31 U.S. 515 (1832) relied on the Doctrine of Discovery and established federal primacy in Indian affairs, excluded state law from Indian country, and recognized tribal governance authority; and

WHEREAS, The Supreme Court reaffirmed inherent tribal authority in Williams v. Lee, 358 U.S. 217 (1959), by holding that state courts do not possess jurisdiction to hear claims brought arising on Indian lands against Indian defendants without congressional authorization thereby recognizing tribal sovereign immunity that provides immunity from suit for tribes in the United States; and

WHEREAS, when Tribes seek to enter into contracts and agreements, outside parties may require specific limited waivers regarding the transaction and agreement, but general waivers of sovereign immunity could places a tribes at risk; and

WHEREAS, TCC has been working to assist tribes in limited sovereign immunity waivers so they are able to continue to enter into contracts and agreements with limited exposure; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED the Tanana Chiefs Conference Full Board of Directors recognize the importance of inherent tribal rights including tribal sovereign immunity from suit and ensure that appropriate limited waivers of tribal sovereign immunity are developed and available for specific tribal transactions and agreements to limit tribal risks; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Tanana Chiefs Conference request the State of Alaska end the practice of asking tribes to provide general waivers of sovereign immunity which is unnecessary and creates risks for the tribes; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Tanana Chiefs Conference, advocate and implement a voluntary course for Tribal leaders and to support the University of Alaska tribal courses, to educate the Tribal Leaders in the basics of Federal Indian Law and Alaska history.

Submitted by: Tanana Tribal Council


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