The Indian Civil Rights Act was passed with the intent of ensuring rights—mostly in the legal sphere— for individuals and eliminating corruption within Indian tribal courts. In general, I am not one to oppose the enforcement of human rights. However, ICRA is just another example of the United States federal government attempting to force our system of government onto groups who do not want it and should not need it. Issues of corruption and human rights in Indian government and tribal courts are a result of continued interference by the United States in how tribes were allowed to operate. To further impose “white man’s justice” on these tribes in order to alleviate the problem that it itself caused does not seem like the correct course of action. However, unlike other similarly imposing legislation, it seems that the effects of ICRA have not been as negative. This is due in part to the interpretation of the act—although it is extremely similar to the United States’ Bill of Rights, it leaves more space for adjustment and adaptation. According to McCarthy, “federal courts have held the ICRA should be construed with due regard for tribal tradition and custom, and that the ICRA was not coextensive with the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights.” He also mentions that ICRA has led to an integration of Anglo concepts into tribal courts and that tribes have been able to balance these with tribal traditions and customs, an outcome that is far better than we have seen for most Indian policy.
However, the passing of ICRA itself is a somewhat patronizing act, implying that the United States system of government is high-enough functioning that other groups should attempt to emulate us, when in reality our justice system is undeniably unjust. We also see this in the United States’ increased role in reservation jails—an issue that the United States, with one of the largest and most problematic prison systems in the world, is not exactly qualified to instruct on. It seems to me that the passing of ICRA and other legislation by the federal government is still rooted in the antiquated thinking that Indians are incapable and need to be controlled by the United States for their own good. Perhaps the federal government should be less concerned with protecting Indians from themselves, and instead focus on passing legislation that prevents the stripping of Indian Rights by the people who have historically done so.