Compliance or Evasion?


On September 13, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Initially, the United States voted against adoption of this accord, one of only four countries to do so. In December 2010, however, the United States reversed course (as did the other “no” voting countries) and electedto endorse it. In this essay, I contend that, at best, the United States has an uneven record in terms of compliance with the Declaration. Nonetheless, in endorsing it in 2010, the United States purported to align its long-standing recognition of tribal nations as “political entities that have inherent sovereign powers of self-governance,” with the goals and aspirations of the Declaration. For the sake of brevity, this assessment will examine only a select number of articles from the Declaration, with the aim of analyzing those articles whose subject matter has given rise to important developments in the federal-tribal political and legal relationship.