Within the Fort Peck Reservation, the Fort Peck Tribes possess absolute power to govern all matters involving its members and jurisdictional areas. This traditional capacity and associated rights, unless expressly revoked by Congress, continue to be enjoyed and applied by the Tribes. Fort Peck Tribal governmental establishment, leadership, authority and procedures are illustrated in the Fort Peck Tribal Constitution and By-Laws with Amendments incorporated document, previously adopted on October 1, 1960.

The United States Constitution officially recognizes that Indian Nations, such as the Fort Peck Tribes—just like Canada and the 50 American states—are sovereign governments. The concept of Fort Peck Tribal sovereignty refers to application of inherent power to independently govern, complete important tasks and provide infrastructure on Tribal lands, similar to those associated with Non-Indian governance. They include education, health, welfare, law enforcement, judicial systems, environmental protection, economic development, etc.


Tribal sovereignty preceded the development and adoption of the U. S. Constitution. Respective representatives who drafted the U. S. Constitution recognized Tribal sovereignty in the following manner: In Article I, Section 8, Chapter 3 of the U. S. Constitution, Congress refers to Indian Tribes on identical legal and political bases as with other domestic governmental entities. This legal and political status designation has been upheld by the U. S. Supreme Court.

Furthermore, the U. S. Supreme Court, Congress, Presidents and the hundreds of negotiated treaties have regularly reaffirmed that the Fort Peck Tribes retain their inherent power of self-governance. Tribal self-governance ensures that the Fort Peck Tribes remain viable as a distinct group of people. The Fort Peck Tribes can also regulate activities such as tribal lands, taxes, zoning, resources and the conduct of Tribal members.

Moreover, the Fort Peck Tribes possess and utilize established contemporary legal environments and processes illustrated within the Fort Peck Tribal Comprehensive Codes of Justice document. It serves as a guidepost for many functions and purposes such as establishing standards, maintaining order, resolving disputes, protecting liberties and rights. For example, within Title 24, the “Commercial Law” portion, the Fort Peck Tribes possess and apply a Uniform Commercial Code. It contains rules applicable to many types of commercial transactions.


Lastly, as illustrated in the Tribal Nations of Montana Handbook (1995,) the State of Montana also recognizes the sovereignty status of the Fort Peck Tribes.