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Hobbs Straus attorneys successfully obtained the first Interior Board of Contract Appeals ruling entitling a tribal school to 100% of administrative cost grant funding in Alamo Navajo School Board and Miccosukee Corporation v. BIA, IBCA 3463-3466, IBCA 3560-3562 (Dec. 4, 1997).

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Tribal Control. Tribal Strength.

Forging Modern Indian Nations

The federal policy of Indian self-determination and self-governance has dominated Indian affairs for the past forty years. Bobo Dean, one of the firm’s founding partners, was in the forefront of this policy in l970 when he represented the Miccosukee Tribe of Florida. While deep in negotiations with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Chairman Buffalo Tiger of the Miccosukee made a simple request. He felt that his Tribe would be more effective at directing their own services and proposed that the BIA contract with them rather than federal employees. For the next few years, the Miccosukee struggled to wrest control over their own tribal programs from the BIA and Department of the Interior. Tiger and Dean overcame objections from the Interior Department that there was no lawful authority for such a contract, and the Miccosukee “take-over” became a model for the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act passed by Congress in l975. 

Helping tribes expand control over their own programs and services is a cornerstone of our work. In Alaska, we represent a number of tribes and tribal organizations in negotiating the Alaska Tribal Health Compact under which all health services for Alaska Natives are managed by tribes. Additionally, in 2008, we won a major victory for the Susanville Indian Rancheria guaranteeing them the right to make their own decisions on health service co-pays. We believe that tribes should have the right to choose to take charge of their own programs with the least amount of federal or state interference.  Making these tough choices and building the capacity to implement them are key steps towards tribes realizing and enhancing their sovereign rights.

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