Tribal Public Health Law


Latest Resource for Tribal Public Health Law

Table: Tribal Public Health Law Resource

Tribal governments seek to protect the health, safety and welfare of their members as a feature of their inherent sovereign authority. The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (Public Law 93-638) brought a new era of Federal support for tribal governments directly administering their own public health and other programs. As such, tribal public health laws interact in important ways with federal, state and local laws. This table lists organizations with experience in tribal and public health law, including epidemiology centers, and academic, non-profit and public or legal services organizations." 

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Connecting Traditions to Wellness: Key Policy Takeaways from the 2019 Tribal Public Health Summit

Tribes across the country are restoring ancient traditions to improve overall wellness of American Indians and Alaska Natives. The recent National Tribal Public Health Summit highlighted these stories and identified the need for law and policy solutions to address a number of critical issues including opioid harm prevention and treatment, access to oral health care, and climate change.  

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Primary Legal Issues

Tribal governments seek to protect the health, safety and welfare of their members as a feature of their inherent sovereign authority. The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (Public Law 93-638) enables tribal governments to directly administer their own public health and other programs.

Tribal public health laws interact in important ways with federal, state and local laws, necessitating culturally sensitive and cohesive legal strategies as well as tailored training and resources working with (and within) tribal governments. Tribal governments deal regularly with public health legal issues including:

  • Investigation and resolution of public health emergencies involving tribal lands, members and enterprises
  • Inter-jurisdictional coordination and distribution of routine and emergency health services, responses and payments for treating tribal members
  • Data sharing policies among tribal and state governments concerning vital statistics, hospital discharge files, communicable disease reporting and immunization, and cancer registries
  • Enforcement of laws related to alcohol and tobacco distribution and consumption on tribal lands

Technical Assistance Capacity

The Network will provide technical assistance on the relationship between state, local and tribal public health laws and policy issues through collaborative partnerships with tribal governments and organizations. The Network will also secure relevant input from state and local governments and other stakeholders on issues of mutual concern.

For legal assistance and support on tribal public health law:

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The Network for Public Health Law provides information and technical assistance on issues related to public health. The legal information and assistance provided does not constitute legal advice or legal representation. For legal advice, please consult specific legal counsel. For more information on the type of legal assistance the Network can provide, please see frequently asked questions.