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Native American Rights

Reserved Rights Doctrine

Another crucial factor in the interpretation of Native American treaties is what is known as the reserved rights doctrine, which holds that any rights that are not specifically addressed in a treaty are reserved to the tribe. In other words, treaties outline the specific rights that the tribes gave up, not those that they retained. The courts have consistently interpreted treaties in this fashion, beginning with United States v. Winans, 198 U.S. 371, 25 S. Ct. 662, 49 L. Ed. 1089 (1905), in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a treaty is "not a grant of rights to the Indians, but a grant of rights from them." Any right not explicitly extinguished by a treaty or a federal statute is considered to be "reserved" to the tribe. Even when a tribe is officially "terminated" by Congress, it retains any and all rights that are not specifically mentioned in the termination statute.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: National Environmental Policy Act of (1969) to NoticeNative American Rights - Tribal Sovereignty, Treaty Rights, Reserved Rights Doctrine, Federal Power Over Native American Rights, Hunting And Fishing Rights