tribal community resistance to retrocession process


Tribal Community Resistance
The tribal community does not always support retrocession unanimously. While
there was no specific question directed at tribal community support, 3 respondents cited
apprehension among the tribal community about retroceding PL 280 jurisdiction. Two of
these responses focus on opposition coming from elders.
It was actually more problems getting the people out here to agree to it
than it was the state and the feds. ... It was mostly the elder people like me
This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department

. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.
that didn’t, you know, want it. I wanted it. But they were so programmed
into having the state and the feds, [they] felt more comfortable.
The tribal attorney for one of the retroceded tribes explained how tribal members had
been convinced that they could not police themselves:
The problem we had was with a few elders, people that I’d known for
years ... and had a lot of respect for, who had been convinced by their
former counsel ... that with regard to law enforcement [that] they were
incapable. So, they bought this idea that they couldn’t police themselves.
They’d come to my office and say,

 “ ... you’re a great guy, and I’m glad
you’re here, but this retrocession is bullshit, the [Tribe] can’t do this.” And
I’d say, “Come on, I’ve been everywhere, and tribes all over the country
have been doing this. We’ve got a bad situation here, and we’ve got to fix
it. Retrocession is one of the ways.” And they’d go out shaking their
heads saying, “You’re wrong ... we can’t do this.”
Factors for Successful Retrocession
What are the measures that have led to successful retrocession bids? We asked
interviewees specifically about how they secured state acceptance and, more generally,
what factors they felt led to the success of their bids for retrocession. Funding again
came up as a major issue, but the converse of what we saw for the federal government.
The funds that retrocession would free up for state and local governments worked as a
very convincing argument presented by tribes. In addition, a good relationship between
the tribal government and the state government was seen as helpful to a successful
retrocession bid.

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