Tribal Sovereign Immunity Update: The Tribe Can Do No Wrong, But What About Its Subordinate Entities, Officials, and Employees?  (On-Demand)

Whether representing tribes or those who interact with tribes, it is important to understand the contours of tribal sovereign immunity. This course will provide an overview of tribal sovereign immunity. It will then focus on recent developments regarding the sovereign immunity of subordinate tribal entities, tribal officials, and employees. It will also touch on other types of immunity that may be available for certain tribal officials and employees. Finally, the course will address practical considerations with respect to tribal sovereign immunity for both tribes and those who interact with them. This program will benefit tribal attorneys, practitioners of federal Indian law, and other attorneys and legal professionals who wish to learn more about tribal sovereign immunity.


  • Tribal Sovereignty and Sovereign Immunity
  • Waivers of Sovereign Immunity
  • Sovereign Immunity of Subordinate Tribal Entities
  • Sovereign Immunity of Tribal Officials and Employees
  • Other Types of Immunity for Certain Tribal Officials and Employees
  • Practical Considerations


  1. Tribal sovereignty
    • Tribes retain all attributes of sovereignty not divested from them.
    • One of these is sovereign immunity.
  2. Tribal sovereign immunity
    • Nature of tribal sovereign immunity
    • Reasons for tribal sovereign immunity
    • Supreme Court precedent on tribal sovereign immunity
  3. Waivers of sovereign immunity
    • Must be express
    • Narrowly construed in favor of the tribe
    • Types of waivers
      • Statute
      • Resolution
      • Contract
        • Express waivers (may be limited)
        • Arbitration provisions
        • Other provisions?
  4. Abrogation of sovereign immunity
    • Only Congress may abrogate
    • Must be express (examples)
    • Difference between applicability and enforceability
  5. Sovereign immunity of tribal entities
    • Typically share tribe’s sovereign immunity
    • More traditional arm of the tribe analysis
    • Developing multi-factor analysis and its application
    • Check for court decisions on entity in question
  6. Sovereign immunity of tribal officials and employees
    • May be protected when acting in official capacity and within scope of authority
    • Ex Parte Young exception
      • Coeur d’Alene exception to the exception
    • Lewis v. Clarke remedy-focused analysis
  7. Other types of immunity
    • Official immunity
    • Legislative immunity
    • Judicial immunity
  8. Practical considerations
    • For tribes
    • For those interacting with tribes


Chloe Thompson Villagomez, Esq.

Not Enrolled

Course Includes

  • 1 Lesson