Briefing on State-Tribal Legal Affairs

On Tuesday, May 31, the National Governors Association hosted a its monthly legal counsel briefing on State-Tribal Legal Affairs. The call provided a high-level overview of the state-tribal legal landscape, discussed key legal and policy issues between states and tribes, highlighted recent U.S. Supreme Court caselaw, and offered legal considerations for Governors as states continue to navigate these important relationships.

The call featured remarks from an Indian Law expert, as well as reflections from Arizona and California on how their states engage tribes, navigate negotiations, and foster meaningful relations with tribal partners. Briefers noted that as sovereign nations, federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribal nations have a government-to-government relationship with the federal government and state governments. Congress has broad power over Indian tribes and can limit tribal powers, enhance them by delegating new powers to tribes, or even terminate tribal status. Governors and state leaders have a role in developing a positive relationship with tribal governments. The briefing also highlighted considerations for strengthening Governors’ offices and tribal relations, including convening regularly and communicating often, engaging state agencies, ensuring the inclusion of tribes, and finding common ground.

NGA holds monthly briefings for Governors’ legal counsel. Please reach out to Lauren Dedon ( for additional information.