This article is intended to provide a theoretical framework for tribal advocates seeking to approach state and local governments to discuss cooperation with Indian nations, with a special emphasis on Indian child welfare. While the federal government has a special trust relationship with Indians and Indian nations, Indian people are also citizens and residents of the states in which they live. Thus, states have obligations to Indians as well.
This article posits the fairly controversial and novel position that states have obligations to guarantee equal protection to all citizens, including American Indians (and non-Indians) residing in Indian country. In other words, states have an affirmative obligation to ensure that reservation residents, Indian and non-Indian, receive the same services from states that off-reservation residents receive.