The South Dakota Indian Country Bar Association is comprised of Native and Non-Native lawyers and legal lay professionals who work in or with Indian Country. (“Indian Country” is a legal term which more or less refers to Native American Tribal governmental reservations or Native nations.) Our professionals are interested in fields such as Federal Indian law, Native American Tribal law, and State-Tribal relations.
There are three functioning levels of sovereign governments in South Dakota: the federal government, the state (county/city) government, and the nine separate Native American tribal governments. Each sovereign has its own set of laws and courts.
Native American Tribal governments pre-date the founding of the United States and the State of South Dakota, therefore, a unique body of law applies to them. In addition, most Native Americans hold “dual citizenship,” in which they are both citizens of the United States/South Dakota as well as citizens of their Tribal nation. As such, they maintain the benefits of both citizenships, as well as the responsibilities of both citizenships (voting, taxes, criminal jurisdiction, etc.). This duality of citizenship also has created a unique body of law.
Altogether, Native Americans comprise nearly 9% of the South Dakota population, and live in much larger percentages in certain areas such as the reservations and the Black Hills (Paha Sapa/He Sapa). For example, in Rapid City, Native Americans make up approximately 12% of the population, and form the basis of a substantial portion of the economy.
The South Dakota Indian Country Bar Association seeks to promote understanding of the complex area of federal Indian law, tribal law, and tribal courts, and to encourage cross-sharing of legal and cultural expertise in the State of South Dakota.