The Indian Self Determination Act was first ratified November 4, 1975, has brought about many social and economic changes for the Recognized Native American "Indian" Tribes of the United States. With this Act, the Department of the Interior, Division of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, officially recognized the right of organized "Indian Tribes" to be sovereign nations. This recognition created the opportunity for Native American Tribes to develop their own system of government, which included criminal and civil justice systems, social welfare programs, free practice of cultural and religious rituals, and the ability to contract with businesses in the private sector as an independent nation and a private business entity. The Self Determination Act was based on the premise that Native American Indian Tribes had, or could learn, to govern themselves under the nurturing and direction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. This Act was also intended to relieve the Bureau of Indian Affairs of direct responsibility for the social and economic welfare and overall governing of the Indian nations. With the ratification of the Indian Self Determination Act, the role of the Bureau of Indian Affairs was modified greatly. They were no longer the governing body over the individual Indian Tribes, officially at this point, they are simply the mentors in the Tribes' process of acquiring strong business and self-governing techniques. Since the original ratification of the Indian Self Determination Act, Title I, Volume 25, Code of Federal Regulations; there have been many discrepancies over the appropriate implementation of this self-governing process. Consequently, the Self Determination Act was amended repeatedly between 1975 and 1989. Each amendment making it more clear that the Indian nations were expected to achieve self-government under the diminished influence of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The achievement of self-government gave the Indian nations the right to perform as private business entities. With the one exception of extreme cases of mismanagement, in which instance, the Bureau could reclaim control of any and all Tribal government and contracting procedures. However, in practice, Tribal governments were becoming increasingly tangled in legal battles with the Bureau of Indian Affairs over the definition and implementation of rights that had been granted to them in the Indian Self Determination Act. There have been numerous instances of Tribal government grants and contracts being officially awarded by private entities or Federal and local governments only to be withheld due to objections raised by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Consequently, the Tribes began to lean more heavily toward contracting for goods and services as independent, private businesses. With the recent enactment of the Indian Self Determination Act of 1974, the Native American Tribal Community has emerged as a force in the United States business arena. As a Tribal Administrator, the author has had the opportunity to explore, research, and experience first-hand the effects enactments of the Indian Self Determination Act are having on the freedom and ability of Native American Tribal people to become sovereign nations and to contract as independent financial entities. Most importantly, from the perspective of this study, the enactment of the Indian Self Determination Act is a doorway for introducing Native American Tribal governments as a sector of the private business arena. The focus of this study is the effects of the Indian Self Determination Act on the Native American Tribes' potential for forming, owning, and operating as profitable business entities in the future.
Hornback, Patricia, "The Promise and Reality of Indian Self Determination" (1996). Faculty Publications - Department of Professional Studies. 9.