The debate over the application of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to Aboriginal governments remains unresolved. In the author's opinion, insufficient attention has been paid in Canada to the American experience with the application of civil rights guarantees to tribal governments. This experience reveals that for the past forty years American policy-makers and judges have been struggling with this contentious issue, and have attempted to achieve a balance between the protection of individual rights and preservation of tribal sovereignty and traditions. In light of the American experience, the author argues that a simplistic yes or no answer to the Charter's application to Aboriginal governments is inappropriate. In particular, more consideration has to be given to the impact of the Charter on Aboriginal cultures and to the role of Canadian courts in adjudicating disputes that arise within Aboriginal communities.