Tribal Councils (American Indians Ready Reference)
Article abstract: Tribal councils, established by the U.S. government as reservation-based decision-making bodies representing tribal members, were opposed by many native people
At one time each native tribe ruled with a form of government unique to its culture but usually based on a consensus process. As the tribes were conquered, they were deprived of their sovereignty and subjected to the rule of the U.S. government through the agents of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). In 1871, Congress ended treaty-making with the tribes, and the relationship of the government to the tribes became one of guardian to ward.
In 1934, Congress passed the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA), which has been the subject of heated debate ever since. Under the provisions of this act, any tribe, or the people of any reservation, could organize themselves as a corporation, adopt a constitution and bylaws, and exercise certain forms of self-government.
Because the IRA did not recognize existing traditional forms of government, such as those provided by spiritual leaders and elders, many people boycotted the process of voting in these IRA-sanctioned governments. As a result, only a minority of tribal members voted to establish the tribal councils, which are structured after European American and hierarchical models.
The matters with which these councils could deal were strictly limited, and decisions and actions were subject to...
(The entire section is 367 words.)
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