Northern Arapaho Await Judge's Decision On Sovereignty Case

Sep 19, 2016

A federal court decision is expected next week that could decide how the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs can and can’t manage the affairs of the Northern Arapaho, now that the tribe has dissolved their Joint Business Council with the Eastern Shoshone.

Two years ago, the Northern Arapaho walked away from a Joint Business Council with the Eastern Shoshone, saying the Northern Arapaho tribe was growing faster and needed more independence. Both the Eastern Shoshone and the Bureau of Indian Affairs claimed the Northern Arapaho had no right to do that. 

Originally, the Northern Arapaho filed suit against both an Eastern Shoshone councilman and the BIA, but later dropped the councilman from the suit in hopes that the tribes could reach a consensus.

Now, the case continues between the Northern Arapaho and the BIA with the tribe contending that the BIA continues to provide federal money to a Joint Business Council that no longer exists, and that the tribe isn’t receiving its fair share of funding. 

The Northern Arapaho tribe has been working to set up its own tribal programs through federal contracts under the Self Determination and Education Assistance Act, like a tribal run court system. But the BIA wants to block the renewal of such contracts when they expire on September 30 and impose a bureau led Court of Indian Offenses system. 

A federal judge is expected to decide if the Northern Arapaho can renew its contracts and apply for others sometime next week.