Breaking the Chains:
Transformative federal legislation and Tribal peoples

Recordings and resources for the final of four virtual briefings on Indigenous Leadership: Ensuring a Future for Native Peoples, Cultures, and Lands.

Breaking the Chains: Transformative Federal Legislation and Tribal Peoples

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Federal legislation passed in the 1970s and 1980s transformed the relationship between Native American tribes and the U.S. Government, shifting from a colonialist, paternalistic approach to one that recognized the sovereignty of tribal nations. Law professor Robert Miller (Eastern Shawnee) will provide the history and context of some of the groundbreaking laws that finally protected many of the sovereign rights of tribes and established new ways to work with the federal government. Next, Dave Tovey (Cayuse/Joseph Band Nez Perce) will examine one piece of legislation passed during this era that brought profound economic and social change to some tribes, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

“Great presentations, extremely knowledgeable guests and generous in their sharing. As a nonindigenous attendee I have found it so helpful to learn about contemporary Indigenous history in particular, especially the laws and hard won successes.” – Breaking the Chains Briefing attendee

Download the transcript.



Richard (Dick) Trudell reflects on his 40-year career working closely with tribal leaders to make change for Native communities
An interview with Mark Trahant (Shoshone- Bannock) of Indian Country Today. (10:39)

“Visioning” with Dr. Robert J. Miller
A webinar that was part of the Vibrant Tribal Economies webinar series organized by the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians Economic Development Corporation (2/18/22 – 1:34:45)

“How Tribal Governments and Indigenous Political Theories Impacted the Founding Fathers and the U.S. Constitution” with Robert (Bob) Miller
webinar that was part of the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute Constitution Series (4/20/22 – 1:00:34)



Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation Homelands
CTUIR GIS Department

Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
CTUIR GIS Department


Suggested readings

Wiyaxayxt / Wiyaakaa’awn / As Days Go By: Our History, Our Land, Our People – The Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla
Edited by Jennifer Carson (2006). University of Washington Press.

Cáw Pawá Láakni / They Are Not Forgotten: Sahaptian Place Names Atlas of the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla
Eugene S. Hunn (2015). Tamastslikt Cultural Institute.

Blood Struggle: The Rise of Modern Indian Nations
Charles F. Wilkinson (2006). W.W. Norton & Company.

Native America, Discovered and Conquered: Thomas Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, and Manifest Destiny
Robert J. Miller (2008). Praeger Publishers 2006, paper University of Nebraska Press, 2008.

Reservation “Capitalism”: Economic Development in Indian Country
Robert J. Miller (2019). Praeger Publishers 2012, paper University of Nebraska Press 2013.

Sovereign Resilience: Reviving Private-sector Economic Institutions in Indian Country
Robert J. Miller. 2018 BYU L. Rev. 1331-1405 (April 2019).

The History, Status, and Future of Tribal Self-Governance Under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.
Geoffrey D. Strommer & Stephen D. Osborne. American Indian Law Review, vol. 39, no. 1, 2014, pp. 1-75.

Indian Self-Determination: Four Decades of Extraordinary Success.
Geoffrey D. Strommer & Kirke Kickingbird. Human Rights, vo. 40, no. 4, 2015, pp 2-6.



Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians
Portland, OR |

ATNI Economic Development Corporation
Portland, OR |

Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission
Portland, OR |

Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
Pendleton, OR |

National Congress of American Indians
Washington, DC |

Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission
Olympia, WA |


Making a difference: Native-led nonprofits

We encourage you to learn more about and consider contributing to these nonprofits Bob and Dave support.

American Indian Graduate Center
Albuquerque, NM |

National Indian Child Welfare Association
Portland, OR |

Nixyaawii Community Financial Services
Pendleton, OR |

Tamastslikt Cultural Institute
Pendleton, OR |

Indian Land Tenure Foundation
Little Canada,

Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians Economic Development Corporation
Portland, OR |

About our speakers

Robert J. Miller is a professor of law at the Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law at Arizona State University in Tempe. His areas of expertise include Federal Indian Law, American Indians and international law, American Indian economic development, Native American natural resources, and Civil Procedure. He is a noted author of numerous books that deepen the understanding of American Indian relations, history, and law from colonial times to the present.

Dave Tovey has a wealth of experience in tribal economic development. He is currently the executive director of the Nixyáawii Community Financial Services, a Native CDFI on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation that provides loans, homeownership guidance, and financial management assistance. In addition, Dave has served in top executive roles with the Siletz Tribal Business Corporation, Cayuse Technologies, and the Coquille Indian Tribe. He currently serves as the board president of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians Economic Development Corporation (ATNI-EDC).

Top image: A beach in Yakutat, Alaska, by Bethany Goodrich. Images of the briefings speakers, courtesy of the speakers.