"The central question most often is where to draw the line between state and tribal authority, two competing sovereigns," Rogers writes. "It’s here where Native American professionals and legal experts say there has been a decided shift beginning with Chief Justice William Rehnquist and now his former clerk, Chief Justice John Roberts. In fact, the 2015 edition of the casebook, American Indian Law: Cases and Commentary, found that the Roberts court had decided 11 Indian law cases thus far and ruled against tribal interests in all but two of them, an 82 percent loss record."
The Obama administration "has sped up approvals for restoring lands to Indian sovereignty; more than 305,000 acres have been approved since 2009," Rogers writes. "And alarm bells are going off now in Congress over new proposed rules drafted by Interior to update the process by which tribes can seek recognition from Washington."
The main problem is that a few powerful tribes control all the money, Rogers writes. For example, in Oklahoma, the Chickasaw, Cherokee and Choctaw "account for almost two-thirds of the market shared with 27 other" tribes. Richard Grellner, an attorney with a long history of representing the Plains Indian tribes, told Rogers, “They essentially created a land rush for the preferred tribes who were given special locations to start to grab the market way ahead of everybody else and before the rules were equally applied. Everything since then has been to move the goal posts to protect what was previously done.” (Read more)