Walla Wallan M. Brent Leonhard published a new 152-page paperback book in August. Printed by ABA (American Bar Association) Book Publishing, "About Tribal Contracting: Understanding and Drafting Business Contracts with American Indian Tribes," would be of interest to those who cover business and public contract law or who are in general practice, according to www.abanet.org/abastore/. The cost is $89.95.
A former assistant Walla Walla city attorney, Brent is currently an in-house lawyer with Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.
Many American Indian nations have significantly expanded their business practices as they continue to grow and thrive, Brent said. But he found few resources to aid practitioners in forming successful tribal contracts despite the hundreds of contracts tribal governments annually enter into. His book aims to provide such a resource.
It gives general background that practitioners should be aware of when engaging in business transactions with tribes or providing representation to tribes when they contract with outside entities.
It covers various areas of federal Indian law that have a significant impact on these relationships, and chapters that give practitioners an understanding of basic principles of tribal economies, contract drafting and federal contract law. Brent also includes a professional services contract, a general consulting contract and a master agreement, all designed for tribes.
When he started handling transaction work for the Tribes it was frustrating. The Tribes regularly deal with a large number of contracts. "Unfortunately, there were no resources out there for a practitioner to reference managing subtle nuances and unique differences involved in writing contracts in the Indian country context."
"Out of that frustration and a lot of research, I developed several standardized contracts for various situations, which are substantially included in the book.
"I also started to develop a handbook that dealt with various issues that can arise on a routine basis, such as issues involving sovereign immunity, jurisdiction and federal statutory restraints in particular circumstances.
"It also became clear to me that individuals, businesses and governmental entities that contract with Tribes had a wide range of understanding, or misunderstanding, about tribes, tribal businesses and Indian law."
With that in mind, the first chapter gives background and context to transacting business with tribes. It coalesced into the book published by the American Bar Association, he said.
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