Broken Landscape: Indians, Indian Tribes, and the Constitution

Broken Landscape: Indians, Indian Tribes, and the Constitution

Broken Landscape: Indians, Indian Tribes, and the Constitution

Broken Landscape: Indians, Indian Tribes, and the Constitution

Synopsis

Although Indian tribes are recognized under the U.S. Constitution, this constitutional recognition has historically and repeatedly been cast aside in favor of excessive, unaccountable federal authority that has greatly impaired tribal sovereignty and culture. Broken Landscape asserts that it is time to confront this constitutional failure with the vigor of a constitutional amendment reestablishing the sovereignty and dignity of American Indians.

Excerpt

The Indian nations were here first. then much later came foreign settlers from a continent across the ocean. the primary objectives of the settlers were trade and land acquisition. the principal means of interaction between the Colonies and Indian tribes were diplomacy and war. Diplomacy most often manifested itself in the signing of treaties as (binding) agreements between sovereigns. After the Revolutionary War, the United States became the successor nation to the European colonialist states. in 1787, the young United States adopted its constitution and formalized its relationship with Indian tribes and Indian people through treaty making, the Indian Commerce Clause, and the provision to exclude “Indians not taxed” from citizenship and enumeration in determining the number of representatives each state was entitled to receive. the continuing diplomatic encounter resulted in the signing of more than 350 treaties—many of which were subsequently broken or disregarded. the wars, too, were many and varied. These experiences of diplomacy (manifested most often in matters of commerce and land acquisition) and war were the prime result of “contact” between these quite different societies. These encounters were transacted through governmental interaction, which itself was refracted through the lens of cultural difference.

These various and multiple encounters are best analyzed through the lenses of four primary themes, namely, commerce and land acquisition, diplomacy and war, cultural difference, and physical separation. These themes, in ways both obvious and not so obvious, possess a constitutional pedigree and resonance that provide the primary angle of vision for the ensuing exploration and analysis. in this same context, there will be a sustained inquiry into the role . . .

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