Tribal Sovereignty

Lesson Duration

Author:  Nicole Bihr Menard for PBS – Indian Country Diaries

This lesson will ask students to review sections of A Seat at the Drum and Spiral of Fire where the many issues of tribal sovereignty are evident. Students will be asked to research the sovereignty issues facing a tribe that resides within their state border. Then, they will develop their own sovereign nation. Students will concentrate on how the concept of sovereignty is special for Indian tribes and is often central to casino issues, and the complex relationships between the U.S. government, the states and Indian tribes. Students will be asked to write a research paper complete with an example of what type of sovereign government the student feels is most effective.


Students will be able to:

  • Define sovereignty as it relates to Native American tribes
  • Explain how the federal government is a component of sovereignty for Native American tribes
  • Apply knowledge of sovereignty towards creating a mock sovereign nation




The PBS documentaries in Indian Country Diaries raise issues that can help teachers meet multicultural educational standards in their classrooms. Nichole Bihr Menard (Oglala Lakota) from the Lincoln (NE) Public Schools wrote these lesson plans. Video now available on Amazon Prime.