Conference Eyes American-Indian Sovereignty; Panelists Cite Political Influence, Court Rulings, Tribal Splits

Article excerpt


The issue of sovereignty and American Indians is ever-changing, and experts on the issue fear it's become too susceptible to changes in political administrations.

To address these and other issues, the nonprofit Foundation for California held a one-day conference last week to discuss American Indians' history, their relations with the federal government and current sovereignty status in American jurisprudence.

Legal scholars, judges and political scientists attending the conference exchanged ideas on establishing a more coherent policy.

Alfred Balitzer, founder and chairman of the foundation, said the conference was not aimed at a specific legislative or judicial body. But he said: "The timing is good, especially [since] we see a number of cases are coming up now to the Supreme Court on sovereignty."

For example, the Indian tribe San Manuel and National Labor Relations Board are involved in a lawsuit over union organizing at tribal casinos.

In that case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a NLRB ruling that federal labor law could apply to tribe-owned businesses. …