The federal government's three branches—executive, legislative, judicial, and that unwieldy mass known simply as "the bureaucracy" have, during the last half-decade—1987-1991—produced a dizzying crop of laws, policies, proclamations, regulations, and court decisions which have served simultaneously to 1) reaffirm tribal sovereignty; 2) permit and encourage greater state interference within Indian Country; 3) enhance federal legislative authority over tribes; and 4) deny constitutional free-exercise protections both to individual Indians and to tribes.
On the legislative side, Congress has established the experimental Tribal Self-Governance Demonstration Project which is a major step towards restoring the tribal right of self-determination, and is discussing the potentiality of reestablishing a more constitutionally-grounded policy with tribes—"New Federalism." This policy would resemble the bilateral agreement period between tribes and the U.S. which lasted from 1875 to 1914.
Copyright © 1992 University of California, Davis. This article first appeared in Wicazo Sa Review 8:1 (April 1992), 40-64.
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Wilkins, David E. “Who’s in Charge of U.S. Indian Policy? Congress and the Supreme Court at Loggerheads Over American Indian Religious Freedom.” Wicazo Sa Review 8, no. 1 (April 1992), 40-64.