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Constitutional Provisions and Limitations

Learn about the constitutional basis for federal power over Indians and constitutional limitations on that power.


I. Indian Commerce Clause

Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution holds that Congress has the power to regulate commerce with Indian tribes. This power is referred to as the Indian Commerce Clause. Congress can regulate how tribes engage in commercial activities, including land sales, tribal gaming, hunting, and leasing mineral rights.

Imagine that the federal government wanted to abolish a tribe’s sovereignty by terminating the tribe’s federally recognized status. Does the...