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Tribal Sovereignty Defined

An Indian Tribe is a distinct political community. A Tribe retains its inherent powers of self-government absent action by Congress to limit those powers. A State cannot limit the powers of a Tribe.

The source of Tribal powers rests in its people. Tribes have had the inherent right to govern themselves "from time immemorial". See Worchester v. Georgia, 515, 558 (1832). Tribal governments have the same powers as the federal and state governments to regulate their internal affairs, with some few exceptions. For instance, the Tribes have the power to form a government, to decide their own membership, the right to regulate property, the right to maintain law and order, the right to regulate commerce, and so on.

However, over the history of the Tribes' relations with the United States, Tribes have been economically devastated. Most have not had the financial means to effectively exercise their governmental powers. For some Tribes, Gaming has provided the only successful means to raise funds to be able to exercise their inherent powers of self-government.

Without Tribal sovereignty, and the financial means to exercise powers of self-government, Tribes would not survive as Indian Nations. .