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Sovereignty and the Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA)

Learn about the origins and nature of tribal sovereignty and its abrogation in the Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA).


I. Tribal Sovereignty

Sovereignty is the supreme authority that a country has over its territory. Tribal sovereignty presents a unique situation because Indian territories are located within the United States, a country with its own sovereignty. The origin of tribal sovereignty comes from the United States Supreme Court’s holding in Worcester v. Georgia, 31 U.S. (6 Pet.) 515 (1832), where the Court held that Indian tribes are distinct political communities that have exclusive authority...