Native American Rights, Federal Government Plenary Power and Land Takings

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Native American Rights, Federal Government Plenary Power and Land Takings

Abstract

Native Americans are entitled to the same Constitutional protections that guard other citizens from federal government infringement. Plenary power and the accompanying seizure and use of indigenous land bases have violated the rights of Native Americans and demonstrated the inability of the federal government to manage Indian affairs. The United States should give ownership and control of original, non-privately owned land bases back to tribes. This course of action would end treaty violation, compensate tribes for land takings, prevent bureaucrats from implementing policies that obstruct the ability of Native Americans to participate in their religion,
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A policy of self-governance would end treaty violation, justly compensate tribes for land, prevent bureaucrats from obstructing the ability of Native Americans to participate in their religion, and prevent the serious cultural loss that may occur if the government continues to use Native American land for self-interested purposes. Arguments that these objectives are unattainable and unfounded do not hold up to analysis. Therefore, to provide a remedy for the ongoing infringement of Native American constitutional rights, Congress should both return non-privately owned land taken in violation of treaties and abolish federal plenary power over tribes, permitting greater self-governance.

The Constitution provides clear Native American protection from governmental land confiscation in Article VI, Section 2. The relevant section states, "…All Treaties made; or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land"(Farber [9]). The United States signed 371 treaties with Indian tribes between 1790 and 1870 (Churchill, Struggle for the Land 20). Treaties were made for a variety of purposes, such as "mutual protection, peace, in support and regulation of trade with the Indians, to provide for military posts, [and] to wrest land from the Natives"…