Viejas Tribal Government
The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians is a sovereign government recognized by the United States government as having governmental jurisdiction over its land and tribal members. Tribal governments have autonomy and are not subject to state jurisdiction, based on their inherent sovereignty. They were governing their lands prior to the founding of the United States, treaties with the federal government, and the U.S. Constitution.
Along with tribal governments throughout the United States, the Viejas Band has a “trust” relationship with the federal government, enforces federal laws, and participates in issues relating to its land and people on a government-to-government basis.
The Viejas Band has become one of the nation’s most respected gaming tribes, due to its entrepreneurial success and political advocacy of economic sovereignty, and for the example it has set for tribal government businesses throughout the nation.
The tribe’s government consists of two levels: general council and tribal council. The general council includes all of the band’s voting members. The foundation for policies and procedures is based on custom and tradition. A rigorous form of participatory democracy, the general council has approval over land use and tribal budgets. The general council elects the tribal council, which includes the chairman, vice chairman, secretary, treasurer, and three council members at large.
Tribal government officials are elected to four-year terms of office. Like local governmental entities, the tribal council serves as the executive and legislative branches, but it has quasi-judicial powers as well. Like special district boards (water district, port authority, economic enterprise, or redevelopment agencies), the tribal council also serves as the “board of directors” for Viejas Band economic enterprises, with all tribal members established as “shareholders.”