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U.S. Attorney General States Principles for Working With Tribes

American Indian Law Blog Post
December 24, 2014

On Friday, December 12, 2014, the Office of the Attorney General issued a notice setting forth principles for the AG and Department of Justice to work with federally recognized Indian tribes. Highlights of these principles include:

  • DOJ will honor and act in accordance with the trust relationship between the United States and tribes.
  • DOJ is committed to furthering the government-to-government relationship with tribes, respecting and supporting tribal sovereignty and self-determination/ autonomy.
  • DOJ supports the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • DOJ is committed to regular and effective communication with tribes, both formal and informal.
  • DOJ will foster respect within the Department for the uniqueness of each tribe's history and culture.
  • DOJ is committed to protecting Native Americans, including especially women and children, from violence.
  • DOJ is committed to protecting tribal treaty rights.
  • DOJ supports stable funding programs for essential tribal functions.
  • DOJ is committed to fully implementing the Indian Child Welfare Act, the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968, the Tribal Law and Order Act, and the Violence against Women (Reauthorization) Act.

The AG's Notice is intended to be effective December 3, 2014.  A complete copy of the Notice can be found at this link:http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-12-12/pdf/2014-28903.pdf

Varnum's take:  The AG's principles are laudable and welcome. The proof, of course, will be in the "doing." The administration has taken recent positive steps in line with these principles (repeal of VAWA exemptions, passage of Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act, etc.). It remains to be seen whether this progressive road is also followed by the AG and DOJ. The recent DOJ decision to file amicus briefs in State courts in support of tribal claims under ICWA is a very good start.

If you have any questions about this Notice or desire any other assistance from our American Indian Law group, please contact Fred Schubkegel at flschubkegel@varnumlaw.com.

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