Recognition, Sovereignty Struggles, & Indigenous Rights in the United States: A Sourcebook

Recognition, Sovereignty Struggles, & Indigenous Rights in the United States: A Sourcebook

Recognition, Sovereignty Struggles, & Indigenous Rights in the United States: A Sourcebook

Recognition, Sovereignty Struggles, & Indigenous Rights in the United States: A Sourcebook

Synopsis

This engaging collection surveys and clarifies the complex issue of federal and state recognition for Native American tribal nations in the United States. Den Ouden and O'Brien gather focused and teachable essays on key topics, debates, and case studies. Written by leading scholars in the field, including historians, anthropologists, legal scholars, and political scientists, the essays cover the history of recognition, focus on recent legal and cultural processes, and examine contemporary recognition struggles nationwide.
Contributors are Joanne Barker (Lenape), Kathleen A. Brown-Perez (Brothertown), Rosemary Cambra (Muwekma Ohlone), Amy E. Den Ouden, Timothy Q. Evans (Haliwa-Saponi), Les W. Field, Angela A. Gonzales (Hopi), Rae Gould (Nipmuc), J. Kehaulani Kauanui (Kanaka Maoli), K. Alexa Koenig, Alan Leventhal, Malinda Maynor Lowery (Lumbee), Jean M. O'Brien (White Earth Ojibwe), John Robinson, Jonathan Stein, Ruth Garby Torres (Schaghticoke), and David E. Wilkins (Lumbee).

Excerpt

Why “Recognition” Matters

Few issues are as fractious in contemporary indigenous affairs in the United States as the official recognition of the separate political status of tribal peoples by external governments. Haunted today by such divisive issues as Indian gaming, disputes over the “authenticity” and racial identity of native peoples, and charges made by non-Indians that “special rights” should not be extended to Native Americans, debates over federal recognition—the formal or legal acknowledgment of the sovereign political status of tribal nations—have been a major preoccupation in Indian Country into the twenty-first century. When the Red Power movement emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, indigenous activists and organizations pressed for an end to the overtly destructive if not genocidal federal policy of “termination” that had been launched midcentury. Against this effort to legislatively dismantle indigenous sovereignty and treaty rights, native leaders and activists asserted the enduring history of indigenous self-determination—a lived experience that was in no sense a “gift” from the U.S. federal government. Formal public statements by indigenous organizations made that point clear. the 1961 Declaration of Indian Purpose—composed at the American Indian Chicago Conference during which more than 450 native participants came together to address their nations’ social, political, and economic concerns—proclaimed it in the clearest terms: American Indian peoples had exercised “the inherent right to live their own lives for thousands of years before the white man came.” Yet as Vine Deloria Jr. argues in his classic study, Behind the Trail of Broken Treaties: An Indian Declaration of Independence (1974), while American Indian leaders and activists persisted in “raising their claims of national independence on the world scene,” even “the most sympathetic non-Indians” did not at the time grasp the deep history and political significance of indigenous activism: “Few people were able to look backward to the four-hundred-year struggle for freedom that the Indians had waged and recognize that if the United States and its inhabitants had regarded the Indians as another domestic minority group, the Indians did not see themselves as such.” Deloria’s words are a fitting point . . .

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