Algonquin Woodland Metis Anishinabek Tribe (AWMAT) operates as do all other tribes in our core foundation structure. As such, we have our own laws and government, and exercise our many significant rights of self governments under the U.S Constitution as well as Canadian and United Nations “Law”, which have its roots from our own sovereignty.
We are a sovereign nation with legal authority and responsibility for our people and lands. states are completely excluded in dealing with our tribe. In fact, The Federal Government has the responsibility for the protection of our tribe and our properties, including protection from encroachments by the states and their citizens.
Tribal governments such as ours exercise a form of governmental immunity that is comparable to the immunity of states, local governments and the federal government. Like the federal government, tribal governments retain limited immunity in order to protect government funds and discretionary governmental functions.
In Worcester v. Georgia (1832), U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall wrote that the Indian nations were “distinct, independent political communities retaining their original natural rights.”
In this regard, we as do all tribal governments have the power to tax, to pass our own laws and to have our own courts and other such systems within our government… and we do!
We have established three Branches of Government: the Legislature, the Judiciary and the Executive Departments.
- Our Sachem (Chief) holds the executive power in the tribe. ,
- An elected, President.
- An elected Vice-President
- An elected Governor
- Elected Chair’s for various Round-Table Committee’s
- Council of Elders, consisting of seven tribal members. All legislative and executive powers of the Tribe not granted to the Council of Elders are vested with the Tribal Council. The Council of Elders oversees judicial matters and the Tribe’s cultural integrity. The Council of Elders also exercises legislative powers with respect to tribal membership and enrollment.
- A Tribal Council, which holds the legislative power. Tribal Council and shall consist of a Chairman, Vice Chairman and nine members to be chosen by popular votes.
- A tribal court system handles disputes between tribal members, as well as some disputes between members of the tribe and non-members. The Tribal Court adjudicates on all non-gaming matters. Family Court, Justice Court, Criminal Court, Traffic Division, Patrol Division and Enterprise Security. Together we enforce Tribal Ordinances.
It’s important to note that tribes, contractors, and employees of tribes are deemed to be agents of the federal government for the purposes of the FTCA (Federal Tort Claims Act) when a tribal government program operates with federal dollars, as we do.