Students will understand the relationship among the governments of the sovereign American Indian Nations in Utah, the State of Utah, and the United States.
- Any newspaper, magazine, or online news source is acceptable.
- The Bear River Massacre by Newell Hart -- produced
by Battle Creek Productions available through University of Utah Press.
- The Nations Within: Past and Future of American Indian
Vine Deloria Jr. and Clifford M. Lytle). The educator should watch this video
and decide which parts are appropriate for class discussion.
- Atlas of the North American Indian by Carl Waldman, pp. 215-241 Contemporary
- Jack Utter, Today's Question. and The Rights
of Indians and Tribes by Stephen L. Pevar (covers A History of Federal
Indian Policy, Treaties and the Federal Trust Responsibility, Federal and
State Power over Indian Affairs, Tribal Self-government, Criminal and civil
jurisdiction, hunting, fishing, gathering, and Water Rights, gaming, Taxation,
Civil Rights and The Indian Child Welfare Act.) Fairly comprehensive information.
Background for Teachers
This is the fourth of five lessons in the Seventh Grade American Indian History Lesson Plan Unit:
TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS AS SOVERIGN NATIONS
“Indian tribes have held a unique position in the history of the American
Government as well as in contemporary affairs. The basis for that position
is the fact that Indian tribes were recognized as sovereign from the time of
discovery and that recognition continues today.” – Nancy M. Tuthill
What makes American Indian tribes so unique from other ethnic minorities,
besides their indigenous status, is that they are land-based and have a political
relationship with the United States government. This political relationship
has several legal bases: (1) the “commerce clause” of the U.S.
Constitution; (2) treaties between the U.S. and the Indian nations, legislation,
and subsequent federal policy; and (3) Supreme Court decisions and executive
American Indian tribes, however, do not enjoy absolute sovereignty. Indian
tribes do not exercise international independence (but neither do state governments).
They are domestic independent nations (nations within a nation, having a nation-to-nation
relationship with the Federal Government). Additionally, the Federal Government
has a unique trust of fiduciary responsibility for American Indian tribes and
their interests and assets, as a result of treaties which stressed “services
such as education, health, etc., in exchange for land.”
Some commonly asked questions are:
- Who determines membership in a tribe? (The Indian tribes establish their
own membership laws.)
- Do all tribes enjoy sovereign rights? (Not all Indian tribes or bands have
this nation-to-nation relationship. Only those federally recognized—i.e.,
those recognized by the Secretary of the Interior as eligible for services
by the Federal Government—are considered sovereign governments.)
- Are Indian citizens of the United States? (Indians were granted citizenship
via the Citizenship Act of 1924.)
- Do Indians pay federal income tax? (Yes, Indians are required to pay federal
income tax regardless of federal recognition.)
- Do Indians pay state taxes? (Federally recognized Indians do not pay state
income or property tax if they live and work on reservations or trust lands.)
- Do the Indian tribes have the right to assess taxes on businesses and industries
operating on reservation land? (Yes, recent court decisions have upheld the
tribes’ right to levy taxes on businesses and severance taxes on some
- If I have Indian heritage, what must I do to become a member? (Your must
contact the tribe from which your heritage comes, obtain their membership
criteria, and file for membership.)
Essential Question 1: What is the meaning of the
term sovereignty, and how does sovereignty
make American Indians unique from other ethnic minorities?
- Motivator: compare/contrast chief vs. leader, guided discussion
- Traditional tribal governments vs. tribal governments formed after Reorganization
Act of 1934 - View
Melanie McCoy's Presentation on Sovereignty and Indian Education
- Vocabulary worksheet/word wall. Use the following words
Word Development :
- Reorganization Act
- Self-Determining Act
- Memorandum of Understanding
- tribal government
- Executive Order Agreements
- Political Relationship Activities -- U.S. Constitution
American Indian tribe/reservation location map (pdf)
- PATHS CD-ROM Executive Order #1
Essential Question 2: How does the structure of
Utah's state government and the U.S. federal government compare with
the governments of Utah 's five American Indian tribes?
- Chart the federal government's structure.
- Chart Utah's state government structure
- Chart tribal governments' structures. (See information on
Utah's tribes regarding the Wheeler-Howard
Act of 1934). (oglalalasiouxtribe
- Create a comparison
chart of the five different tribal government structures.
Essential Question 3: How do Utah's state
government and Utah's
American Indian tribal governments address the concerns of American Indians
in Utah ?
- Analyze media reports (newspapers, magazines, and online sources) of recent
events concerning Utah's American Indians. (Note: "recent" means within
the past three years.)
- Read a definition/description of
the Utah State Office of Indian Affairs regarding establishment and purpose.
- Find the Office of Indian Affairs web site and list its objectives.
Essential Question 1: Assessment
- Completion of sentences using vocabulary terms appropriately.
- Accuracy of compare/contrast tribal map (teacher-graded).
- Research project on treaties, agreements, and executive orders between
Utah tribes and the federal government.
Essential Question 2: Assessment
Government structure comparison chart.
Essential Question 3: Assessment
Research media sources for American Indian issues or concerns.
Utah State Office of Education
Social Studies Enhancement Committee
American Indian History
Lesson Plan Writers:
- Gloria Thompson - Ute
- Nanette Watson
- Jeanette Badback - White Mesa Ute
- Don Mose - Navajo
- Merrillee Chamberlain - Paiute
- Venita Tavepont - Ute
- Rebecca Bennally - Navajo
- Tauna Christianson
- Gayle Buxton
- Judith Hegewald
Under the Direction of the Indian Education Specialist, Shirlee
Silversmith. Special thanks to Dolores Riley.