Tribal-State Relations Training

Tribal-State: Government-to-Government Relationships

Glossary

This glossary provides basic definitions for some of the terms that might be unfamiliar to you. Many of these terms are also defined in slightly different ways in various laws and court cases.

This council discusses policies and issues involving roadways on or near reservations. MnDOT is a member of this council along with Minnesota tribes, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, FHWA, MIAC, and a representative from one county and city.

Land that is restricted fee land or trust land that is owned by an individual Indian.

The federal government holds title to the land for an individual Indian. The beneficial interest (any profits or advantages that come from ownership of the land) belongs to the individual Indian. See also, definition of “trust.”

Anishinabe is the Ojibwe/Chippewa’s name for themselves. It means “the people.” This word can also be correctly spelled as Anishinaabe. The terms Anishinabe, Ojibwe, and Chippewa are generally used interchangeably to refer to the same people group.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior. It is responsible for the majority of the federal government’s Indian programs. The BIA is the agency that carries out the federal government’s trust responsibilities for tribal trust land and allotted trust land. The BIA regulates the sale and lease of trust land and restricted fee land.

The terms Anishinabe, Ojibwe, and Chippewa are generally used interchangeably to refer to the same people group.

A civil-regulatory law permits, but regulates conduct, while a criminal-prohibitory law prohibits conduct. A criminal-prohibitory law tells you that you can’t do something, while a civil-regulatory law tells you that if you do something you must do it a certain way.

The Red Lake Reservation is called a closed reservation because all of the land on the reservation is tribal trust land. The Red Lake Reservation is a rare exception to the typical “checkerboard” pattern of land ownership on reservations.

The Dakota tribes in Minnesota use the word “community” in the same way that the word tribe, nation, or band is used. Today these words mean the same thing. The word “community” comes from the original Dakota community which was created by an 1851 treaty.

“All parties involved in carrying out planning and project development work together in a timely manner to achieve a common goal or objective.”

“The process of consultation is just as important as the substance of consultation. As part of the consultation process, an agency should:

  1. Inform the tribe of all relevant facts, and do so as early in the decision-making process as possible;
  2. Give the tribe sufficient time to consider the situation, and provide the tribe with technical assistance and additional data if the tribe requests it;
  3. Maintain a dialogue with the tribe, address the tribe’s concerns in a timely manner, keep the tribe informed of developments, and be open t looking at things from a tribe’s perspective;
  4. Document the consultation process by notifying the tribe in writing of developments and potential plans, and request written comments from the tribe;
  5. Accept the tribe’s recommendation unless compelling reasons require otherwise; and
  6. When the tribe’s recommendation is not accepted, send a written and detailed explanation of the reason for that decision."
  7. Selected from: The Rights of Indians and Tribes by Stephen L. Pevar, © 2012 Oxford Press  

“Each party shares and compares in a timely manner its plans, programs, projects and schedules with the related plans, programs, projects, and schedules of the other parties and adjusts its plans, programs, projects, and schedules to optimize the efficient and consistent delivery of projects and services.”

A criminal-prohibitory law prohibits conduct, while a civil-regulatory law permits, but regulates conduct. A criminal-prohibitory law tells you that you can’t do something, while a civil-regulatory law tells you that if you do something you must do it a certain way.

The Dakota are the largest dialect group within the Sioux tribes. Dakota means “ally” in the Dakota language.

Dependent Indian communities are part of Indian country. A dependent Indian community is land that is not a reservation or allotment but that is federally supervised and set aside for the use of Indians. When deciding whether land is a dependent Indian community courts look at a number of factors including: whether the land is trust land, whether government agencies treat the area like Indian country for jurisdictional purposes, and whether the area is cohesive (e.g., there are common economic pursuits in the area, common interests, or common needs of the people who live there).

See definition for tribal member.

See definition for tribal member.

Fee land is land that is not held in trust by the federal government. There are two broad categories of fee land, restricted and unrestricted.

When a tribe is federally recognized it means that the federal government recognizes the sovereignty of the tribe and has a government-to-government relationship with the tribe. Most federally recognized tribes have that status because of treaties, laws passed by Congress, executive orders, or court decisions. Today there are laws and federal regulations that explain when a tribe can be federally recognized and how the process for seeking federal recognition works.

The most commonly used definition of Indian country comes from federal criminal law, but courts often use the same definition in civil (non-criminal) court cases. Indian country includes more than just reservations. Here is a simplified version of the most commonly used definition of Indian country: reservations; allotments; and “dependent Indian communities” (i.e., land that is federally supervised and set aside for the use of Indians, this is usually found on trust land). You can find the complete – more nuanced – definition of Indian country at 18 U.S.C. § 1151.

The power and authority of a government or court to make or enforce law.

The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, comprised of the Bois Forte, Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, Leech Lake, Mille Lacs and White Earth reservations, is a federally recognized tribal government that, through unified leadership promotes and protects that member Bands while providing quality services and technical assistance to the reservation governments and tribal people. MCT Website.

The Minnesota Indian Affairs Council (MIAC) is the official liaison between Minnesota’s State Government and Minnesota’s eleven federally recognized tribes. MIAC Website.

The terms Anishinabe, Ojibwe, and Chippewa are generally used interchangeably to refer to the same people. Ojibway, Ojibwe, and Ojibwa are different spellings that refer to the same people group.

Public Law 280 is a federal law that gives some states, including Minnesota, criminal jurisdiction and jurisdiction over civil court cases in Indian country. Public Law 280 did not take away jurisdiction from tribes, so the State of Minnesota and tribes both have criminal jurisdiction and jurisdiction over civil court cases on most of Minnesota’s reservations. This is called concurrent jurisdiction. Public Law 280 does not give Minnesota any jurisdiction on the Red Lake Reservation and no longer gives Minnesota criminal jurisdiction on the Bois Forte Reservation. Public Law 280 only gives Minnesota – and other states – criminal jurisdiction and jurisdiction over civil court cases in Indian country. Most of the laws you apply and use as a MnDOT employee are civil-regulatory laws and Public Law 280 doesn’t have anything to do with civil-regulatory laws. Public Law 280 does not give the State of Minnesota civil-regulatory jurisdiction on reservations or Indian country.

A reservation is land that is managed by tribes. The term “reservation” comes from tribes “reserving” land for themselves after larger portions of land were ceded (given) to the federal government through treaties. There are eleven federal reservations in Minnesota.

Restricted fee land owned by an individual Indian, meaning that the individual Indian has legal title to the land, but there are legal restrictions against encumbrance (e.g., liens, easements) and alienation (selling or transferring land). The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has to give its approval for this type of land to be encumbered or alienated.

Restricted fee land is owned by an individual Indian or a tribe, it can be found on reservations and outside reservations. Restricted fee land owned by an individual Indian is called a restricted allotment; in this type of land ownership an individual Indian has title to the land, but there are legal restrictions against encumbrance (e.g., liens, easements) and alienation (selling or transferring land). The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has to give approval for this type of land to be encumbered or alienated. Restricted fee land can also be owned by a tribe; in this type of land ownership the tribe holds title, but there are legal restrictions against encumbrance (e.g., liens, easements) or alienation (selling or transferring land). The BIA has to give approval for this type of land to be encumbered or alienated.

The Sioux are a group of tribes in North America. Within the Sioux tribes are three main groups, the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota.

The authority of a political entity (such as a tribe, state, or nation) to govern itself.

The acronym TERO stands for Tribal Employment Rights Ordinance or Tribal Employment Rights Office. A Tribal Employment Rights Ordinance is a law that is passed by a tribal government to ensure that employers operating on a reservation have a hiring preference for Indians qualified for employment. The Tribal Employment Rights Ordinance can also impose a tax (sometimes called a “fee”) on entities doing business on a reservation to finance the cost of running a Tribal Employment Rights Office. A Tribal Employment Rights Office is a division of a tribal government that monitors and enforces the tribe’s Tribal Employment Rights Ordinance.

Some Indians are eligible for membership in a tribe. This is called being a tribal member, being enrolled, or being an enrollee. Each tribe decides what the requirements for membership are. Common requirements for membership include being a descendant of a tribal member or having a certain tribal blood quantum (a certain percentage of ancestors who belong to the tribe). Tribal members have a tribal ID card. These cards look similar to state ID cards. Not all Indians are members of a tribe. Some tribal members live on reservations and some live off of reservations. Not all Indians who are members of a tribe live on a reservation. Being a tribal member is a legal status that changes how state laws and tribal code apply to an individual.

The federal government holds title to the land for a tribe. The beneficial interest (any profits or advantages that come from ownership of the land) belongs to the tribe. See also, definition of “trust.”

A trust exists when one party – the trustee – has legal ownership of something of value (like land) for the benefit of another party (the beneficiary). The trustee has certain responsibilities to the beneficiary, including acting in the beneficiary’s interest.

A trust exists when one party – the trustee – has legal ownership of something of value (like land) for the benefit of another party (the beneficiary). The trustee has certain responsibilities to the beneficiary, including acting in the beneficiary’s interest. The federal government has legal title over trust land and it carries out its responsibilities as trustee through the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Individual Indians or tribes are the beneficiaries in this trust relationship. Trust land includes the following: (1) land held in trust for an individual Indian (also called allotted trust land), which is land the federal government holds title to for an individual Indian while the beneficial interest -- any profits or advantages that come from ownership of the land – belongs to the individual Indian; and (2) land held in trust for a tribe, which is land the federal government holds title to for a tribe while the beneficial interest – any profits or advantages that come from ownership of the land – belongs to the tribe. Trust land can also be found on reservations and outside reservation boundaries.

This is the most common type of land ownership in the United States. Individual Indians and non-Indians can own unrestricted fee land on reservations. Tribes can own unrestricted fee land. Unrestricted fee land on a reservation is Indian country. Unrestricted fee land outside a reservation is not Indian country.