Passed October 1988 to acknowledge the contribution of the Iroquois Confederacy of Nations to the Development of the United States Constitution and to Reaffirm the Continuing Government-to-Government Relationship Between Indian Tribes and the United States Established in the Constitution.
It was resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that:
Whereas, the original framers of the constitution, including most notably, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, are known to have greatly admired the concepts, principles and government practices of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy; and
Whereas, the Confederation of the original thirteen colonies into one Republic was explicitly modeled upon the Iroquois Confederacy as were many of the democratic principles which were incorporated into the Constitution itself; and,
Whereas, since the formation of the United States, the Congress has recognized the sovereign status of Indian Tribes, and has, through the exercise of powers reserved to the Federal Government in the Commerce Clause of the Constitution (art.I, s8, cl.3), dealt with Indian Tribes on a government-to-government basis and has, through the Treaty Clause (art.II, s2, cl.2), entered into 370 treaties with Indian tribal nations; and
Whereas from the first treaty entered into with an Indian nation, the Treaty with the Delaware Indians of September 17,1778, and thereafter in every Indian Treaty until the cessation of treaty-making in 1871, the Congress has assumed a trust responsibility and obligation to Indian Tribes and their members to “exercise the utmost good faith in dealings with the Indians” as provided for the Northwest Ordinance of 1987 (I Stat.50); and
Whereas, Congress has consistently reaffirmed these fundamental policies over the past 200 years through legislation specifically designed to honor this special relationship; and
Whereas, the judicial system of the United States has consistently recognized and reaffirmed this special relationship;
Now, therefore be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled, that:
1) The Congress, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution, acknowledges the historical debt which this Republic of the United States of America owes to the Iroquois Confederacy and other Indian Nations for their demonstration of enlightened, democratic principles of government and their example of a free association of independent Indian Nations;
2) The Congress also hereby reaffirms the constitutionally recognized government-to-government relationship with Indian Tribes which has historically been the cornerstone of this nation’s official Indian Policy;
3) The Congress specifically acknowledges and reaffirms the trust responsibility and obligation of the United States Government to Indian Tribes, including Alaska Natives, for their preservation, protection and enhancement, including the provision of health, education, social and economic assistance programs as necessary, to assist Tribes to perform their governmental responsibility to provide for the social and economic Well-being of their members and to preserve tribal cultural identity and heritage; and
4) The Congress also acknowledges the need to exercise the utmost good faith in upholding its treaties with the various Tribes, as the Tribes understood them to be, and the duty of a great nation to uphold its legal and moral obligations for the benefit of all its citizens so that they and their posterity may also continue to enjoy the rights they have enshrined in the United States Constitution for time immemorial.