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.