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December 16, 1992

Alcohol-Related Deaths of American Indians-Reply

Author Affiliations

Arizona State University Tempe

JAMA. 1992;268(23):3318. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490230047025

In Reply.  —Dr Gibb's letter suggests that tribal sovereignty is part of the problem rather than part of the solution to alcohol abuse. Gibb's views, unfortunately, reflect a lack of knowledge concerning tribal sovereignty and American Indian governments. Thus, a brief discussion of inherent tribal sovereignty is in order.American Indian nations and tribes were sovereign, self-governing communities before Europeans came to America, and the US Constitution recognizes the sovereignty of American Indian tribes.1 Through treaties with the United States, American Indian tribes retained their sovereign rights to self-government, and American Indian reservations were established to provide homelands for American Indian people in the face of the advancing tide of European settlement.2Congress unilaterally ended treaty making in 1871, and at the height of the Social Darwinist era in 1887, the Allotment Act was enacted to break up reservations, distribute 160-acre parcels of tribal land to individual American