The Threat of the Loss of Tribal Autonomy & Culture Facing Transnational Tribes in the United States

By: Jacob Moeller


PDF: A Tribe Divided


Indigenous peoples in the northern and southwestern regions of the United States face challenges to the preservation of their cultures, economies, governments, and family relations as a result of the international borders that have bisected their traditional lands. While there is a history of treatymaking and governmental policy attempting to address these issues, the lack of an effective solution and concrete border policy for tribe members in these regions leaves them without recourse. Some scholars suggest universal US citizenship for tribe members, others suggest tribe-specific legislation, and some even suggest that the tribes pursue litigation against the United States to resolve their woes at the borders. While each of these solutions have their merits, there are serious flaws that will likely prevent their implementation or meaningful effect. This Note will examine the history of treatymaking and border issues for these tribes and some of the primary solutions various scholars have proposed. After analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of these solutions, this Note will suggest that a new, polycentric governance system over the tribal lands be instituted to ensure that the collective tribal rights will be effectively balanced with the international government interests in play.