In the context of tribal governments, fiscal power is the authority to raise revenue and the capacity to provide infrastructure like roads and utilities; and services such as education, medical care, and cultural preservation.
Jurisdiction, a question of territory and authority, is the power to make rules and decisions about matters depending on the people, place, and resources in question.
Land title is certification of ownership, the right to determine how a resource is used and the right to exchange resources. Property rights may be held by individuals, families, groups, or tribal governments.
Rule of Law
The rule of law is another way of saying that laws, as they are written, are applied equally to everyone without regard for wealth, political power, or status. If an individual or company breaks the law, they face the consequences.
It is often taken for granted in countries with a strong rule of law that people respect the rules. But that isn’t the case everywhere. In Indian Country, where the rule of law is not as prevalent, the law as it is written is applied unequally.
Recognition of tribal sovereignty would allow tribes to determine their own governance structures, pass their own laws, and enforce them through tribal police departments and tribal courts. Building blocks for tribal sovereignty include secure land title, clear jurisdiction, fiscal power, and the freedom to govern consistent with tradition.
Ledger art is an example of adaptation. When buffalo hides provided the primary source of material for clothing, teepees, and household goods, Plains Indian adorned them with colorful art that told stories and recorded Plains Indian history. However, after the buffalo were nearly hunted to extinction and tribes were forced to abandon their nomadic ways, Plains Indians lacked a medium for expressing their art and telling their stories. They adapted by using ledger books discarded by federal Indian agents and trading companies.
One story of how ledger art got its start is that a Native American warrior, seeking to feed his starving family, was offered a cow by the local community. Too proud to accept the charity, the hungry man refused the food unless he worked or traded for it. Using a discarded ledger book, he began drawing on the pages and selling the drawings for a quarter to raise money to pay for the cow.