Tribal Government
The following lessons are intended to extend those found in the middle
school Foundations of Democracy text and build on previously taught concepts.

Purpose of Lesson
  • Investigate the structure of current tribal governments in Wisconsin
  • Become familiar with local tribal governments by accessing websites
Wisconsin Model Academic Standards for Social Studies
C.8.4 Describe and explain how the federal system separates the powers
of federal, state, and local governments in the United States, and how
legislative, executive, and judicial powers are balanced at the federal level

Wisconsin Model Academic Standards for Language Arts
A.8.4 Read to acquire information
E.8.1 Use computers to acquire, organize, analyze, and communicate information

Terms to Know
constitution – a written plan for government
General Council – tribal governing body
inherent – a built-in quality
sovereignty – independence; the right to self-government
Tribal Council – a tribal governing body
Tribal Governing Board – a tribal governing body

Where does tribal sovereignty come from?
Native Americans have an inherent right to self-government.  This means that Native American tribes have always governed themselves as separate nations and they continue to do so today. They have the authority to create their own governments and constitutions, create and enforce laws, regulate tribal membership, operate schools, and allocate funds.

Current Tribal Governments in Wisconsin
In 1934, the U.S. government passed the Indian Reorganization Act. This act
required Native American tribes to adopt an Americanized style of government.
This meant that tribes would write a constitution, create a tribal government,
and have elections for tribal leaders.

What rights does the tribal government have?
The tribal government has the authority to do many things. For example, the
tribal government may negotiate contracts, borrow money, and employ lawyers.
In addition, the tribal government can establish a court system and enforce
tribal laws.

What do you think?
  • Which of the tribal powers do you feel is the most important? Why?
  • Predict what would happen if there was not a tribal government to represent the
  • What do you think the limits of the tribal government should be?