US Constitution and Indian Sovereignty The American Ideal?

Note: Your answers are based on a close reading of the Constitution, NOT on what proved true or false historically after 1789.

Read the document closely before you attempt the questions! Close Reading: Observe facts and details as you read; diction: identify ambiguous language why is it ambiguous (author's purpose?)?


Part I: With a partner, determine if the following statement are true or false. Provide Justification for your answer i.e. where in the Constitution did you find your evidence?

General Questions
T/F 1) The principal justifications of Europeans' claims to land in North America were the Euro-centric rights of discovery and conquest.

T/F 2) The U.S. Constitution sets up a system of dual sovereignty, wherein the individual states and the federal governments share power.

T/F 3) The U.S. Constitution is the highest law of the land; neither state or federal legislatures can pass laws which conflict with it.

T/F 4) According to the U.S. Constitution, Article III, if there are any questions of conflict between state/federal law and the U.S. Constitution, the Supreme Court as the nation's highest tribunal, will address the constitutionality of the law and strike it down if it does conflict.

T/F 5) No new state can be erected within the jurisdiction of an existing state without the consent of the state concerned and the Congress of the United States.

T/F 6) Congress has exclusive jurisdiction over the territory in the west not yet formed into states (aka the "public domain")

T/F 7) Treaties, along the the US Constitution, are the "supreme Law of the Land," and states shall be bound thereby.

T/F 8) The Constitution gives the executive branch of the federal government (the branch of government headed by the president) the sole power to make treaties with foreign governments, provided the Senate concurs.

T/F 9) Treaties must be ratified by a majority in the the U.S. Senate to become valid.

T/F 10) In all cases involving a state as a defendant or plaintiff, the US Supreme court has original jurisdiction.

T/F 11) The U.S. Constitution prohibited the states from negotiating treaties. \

Indians and the Constitution

T/F 12) The Constitution recognizes the "sovereignty" of Indian nations, and anticipates tribes merging to form an Indian state, to be ultimately admitted into the Union with equal powers of existing states.

T/F 13) Indians are counted as 2/3 of a person in enumerating the number of representatives each state can send to Congress.

T/F 14) Aside from references to Indians not being taxed, Indians are specifically mentioned only in Article I, Sec. 8 of the U.S. Constitution, referring to Congress's right to regulate commerce.

T/F 15) The federal government has the sole right to negotiate treaties with Indian nations according to Art. 2, Sect. 2 of the U.S. Constitution.

T/F 16) Article IV, Sect. 2 absolutely recognized and guaranteed individual tribes' rights to civil and criminal jurisdiction over their own populations.

T/F 17) If Indians meet property right requirements and prove they can speak English, they can become naturalized U.S. citizens. (6th Amendment to U.S. Constitution).

T/F 18) The executive branch of the federal government has sole jurisdiction over native people.

T/F 19) The U.S. Congress (legislative branch) has sole jurisdiction over native people.

T/F 20) The individual states have civil and criminal jurisdiction over the tribal populations within their boundaries.

T/F 21) Treaties are legally binding contracts, superseding legislation passed by state legislatures.

T/F 22) Treaties are legally binding contracts, superseding legislation passed by Congress.

T/F 23) The federal Judicial power extends over all cases involving an Indian plaintiff or defendant.


Home Work:  Interpretive Questions with short answers to be word processed and answered individually.

T/F 1) Indians are not considered part of the political community to which the Founding Fathers addressed the U.S. Constitution.

T/F 2) Like the controversial issue of the political status of Black Americans (whether citizens or non-citizens), the writers of the U.S. Constitution appear to have wanted to avoid bringing up the issue of Native Americans present and long-term political status in the Republic.

T/F 3) T/F To the extent that U.S. national expansion was achieved at all honorably or fairly, treaties played a vital role. Explain your answer.

Circle One (most honorably/fairly) 10 ....9 .....8.....7....6....5....4.....3....2...1 (dishonorably/unfairly)

T/F 4) By virtue of the fact that the federal government negotiated treaties with Indian tribes, these individual tribes were put on the same par as England, vi. as foreign states or nations with sovereign powers.

5) What amendments to the Constitution deal directly or indirectly with Indian rights as sovereignties or citizens. Briefly explain why in your answer.



Source:UC Irvine's Electronic Educational Environment