Bringing Balance to Mid-North America: Restructuring the Sovereign Relationships between Tribal Nations and the United States

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41 University of Baltimore Law Review 671 (2012)


The relationships between Tribal Nations and the United States have evolved over time and often in a lopsided manner, with the branches of the U.S. government unilaterally dictating the relationship. International norms require bilateral agreements between governments for full recognition of human rights and to promote peaceful relations. In the foundational Marshall Trilogy cases, Chief Justice John Marshall emphasized the international characteristics of the interactions between Tribal Nations and the newly-formed United States nation-state. The idea of a smaller nation aligning with a larger nation as an international ally is a model worth exploring in analyzing contemporary Tribal Nations’ alignments with the United States. Once the United States gained military strength over Tribal Nations, the United States proceeded, by and large, to take unilateral action against Tribes in mid-North America. This article asserts that bilateralism is required for a peaceful, non-oppressive balance between Tribal Nations and the United States as sovereign governments.