An account of Fourth World peoples within a First World nation, Tribal Government Today, Revised Edition is a critical analysis of the contemporary progress of Indian tribes toward self-government and economic sufficiency. Focusing on seven reservations in Montana representing the diverse opportunies and problems facing Indian tribes in the West, the book approaches tribal government from the twin perspectives of reservation politics and the legal context within which reservation conflicts must be solved.
Unlike previous studies of Indian politics, Tribal Government Today is neither a critique of American Indian policy over the years nor an analysis of federal, state, and tribal jurisdictional ambiguities. The authors -- a political scientist, a lawyer, and a historian -- focus instead on the distinctive political culture that has evolved on each reservation in terms of the reservation setting, governmental structures and procedures, and a particular brand of politics. The critical inquiry is how far the reservations are from genuine self-determination and whether that goal is an impossibility for some. The authors conclude with suggestions for reforming tribal government within three main areas: the separation of powers, the role of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and tribal acceptance of the concept of fundamental law.