During the 1960s, Congress held a series of hearings regarding abuses that certain tribal members were enduring at the hands of sometimes corrupt or tyrannical tribal officials. In response to these hearings, Congress passed the Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA), also commonly known as the “Indian Bill of Rights,” which applied most of the Bill of Rights to Indian Tribes.

The ICRA responded to a growing concern among legislators that Native Americans, as citizens of the United States, did not enjoy the same constitutional rights as all other American citizens. Congress’s dual objectives in the ICRA were protecting civil liberties in Indian country and entrusting to sovereign tribal courts the administration of justice on reservations.

The ICRA is a detailed and comprehensive charter of rights and freedoms.  The ICRA, enacted by Congress as Title II of the 1968 Civil Rights Act, is the main source for individual rights and tribal government action. The goal of the ICRA is to ensure that the Native American is afforded the broad constitutional rights secured to other Americans in order to protect individual Indians from arbitrary and unjust actions of tribal governments.

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the ICRA. On the occasion of this momentous milestone, tribal leaders, attorneys, and advocates must ask: How can we best protect and secure the rights of tribal nations?  Join the FBA Indian Law Section for its 43rd Annual Indian Law Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona April 5-6 as panelists examine how tribal nations can use existing and new tools to effectively protect and secure their futures. Sign up now at www.fedbar.org/indianlaw18 to enjoy early bird registration rates.

“The Indian Civil Rights Act at 50: The Intersection of Individual Civil Rights, Human Rights and Tribal Sovereignty” will survey the ICRA’s effectiveness, amendments, enforcement powers, limitations, and protections. Speakers will reflect on the ICRA’s impact on tribal sovereignty and individual rights after fifty years of operation.

Speakers Josh Clause (Clause Law PLLC), Se-ah-dom Edmo (Western States Center), Angela R. Riley (Native Nations Law and Policy Center, UCLA School of Law), and Terri Smith (Chief Judge, Wind River Tribal Court) will review the promises, benefits, and detriments of the ICRA. The goal of this session is to highlight the legacy and the impact of this landmark law on individual rights and tribal communities.

Take the opportunity at the Indian Law Conference to learn about recent developments and fresh challenges to the ICRA.  Speakers will provide a detailed examination of federal court activity regarding the ICRA. To attend the Indian Law Conference, sign up today at www.fedbar.org/indianlaw18.     


Stacy Slotnick, Esq. holds a J.D., cum laude, from Touro Law Center and a B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She performs a broad range of duties as an entertainment lawyer, including drafting and negotiating contracts; addressing and litigating trademark, copyright, patent, and other IP issues; and directing the strategy and implementation of public relations, blogging, and social media campaigns.