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Recognition, Sovereignty Struggles, and Indigenous Rights in the United States

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

Amy. E. Den Ouden
Jean M. OʹBrien
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 376
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  • Book Info
    Recognition, Sovereignty Struggles, and Indigenous Rights in the United States
    Book Description:

    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).

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0809-9
    Subjects: Sociology, History, Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[x])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-34)

    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.¹ When the Red Power movement emerged in the 1960s...

  4. PART I Race, Identity, and Recognition

    • The Imposition of Law The Federal Acknowledgment Process and the Legal De/Construction of Tribal Identity
      (pp. 37-64)

      This chapter considers how American Indian identity is ensconced in federal law through the Federal Acknowledgment Process (FAP). As the primary way by which groups can become legally recognized as a tribe, the FAP relies on evidence of “Indianness” and “tribalness” that is rendered legible through legal and social scientific analyses. Through an examination of the Ramapough Mountain Indians’ petition for federal acknowledgment—a petition ultimately denied by the Secretary of the Interior—we consider some important questions: What are the effects of requiring groups to provide evidence of their social, cultural, and political organization as an Indian tribe, historically...

    • Racial Science and Federal Recognition Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South
      (pp. 65-94)

      To recognize nonreservation tribes under the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) struggled to derive fair criteria that would conform to Commissioner John Collier’s commitment to using social science as an underpinning for policy. But the bureau’s notions of Indianness hardly conformed to Indians’ own ideas. The BIA’s work in North Carolina among the Lumbee Indians is a quintessential example of this conflict. The relationship between the BIA and the Lumbees prompts questions such as “How did Indians simultaneously resist and adopt outsiders’ criteria for Indian identity?” and “What are the consequences of using social science...

    • The Recognition of NAGPRA A Human Rights Promise Deferred
      (pp. 95-114)

      The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA) was proclaimed by many of its advocates as the first substantive piece of human rights legislation in the United States for native peoples. But the legal status on which the rights provided for by the statute are based contradicts the rights to self-determination defined within international charter and accord. This essay locates the reasons for this contradiction within the discursive and ideological work of federal recognition. This work minimizes native epistemology and expertise while reaffirming federal and scientific authority to recognize—or not—the native. It is instanced by...

    • State Recognition of American Indian Tribes A Survey of State-Recognized Tribes and State Recognition Processes
      (pp. 115-146)

      This chapter analyzes the legal status of state-recognized American Indian tribes—those tribes that have been recognized by their respective states but not by the federal government. State recognition¹ is a widely practiced but poorly understood aspect of the U.S. federalist system that has been increasingly employed in relations between tribal nations and individual states as a counterpart to the unwieldy federal recognition process. Thus, there is a pressing need to clarify and better understand the panoply of state recognition processes and their results as well as their implications for the rights of tribal nations. Internet sources that list state-recognized...

  5. PART II State and Federal Recognition in New England

    • State Recognition and ʺTerminationʺ in Nineteenth-Century New England
      (pp. 149-168)

      Over the course of two and a half centuries of colonialism in southern New England, colonial polities developed a system of guardianship that bore striking parallels to the “trust relationship” that stands at the center of federal recognition of Indian nations in the United States. But over the course of the nineteenth century, and in dialogue with debates over abolition, enfranchisement, and citizenship, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island took steps to “terminate” those relationships (a process they called “detribalization,” which for them carried the notion of “liberating” Indians from the perceived shackles of tribalism). This chapter raises questions about the...

    • Altered State? Indian Policy Narratives, Federal Recognition, and the “New” War on Native Rights in Connecticut
      (pp. 169-194)

      If there is one important lesson to be derived from Connecticut’s Indian policy as it has been developed and articulated in response to tribal nations’ federal acknowledgment struggles in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it is that the ancestry of the state’s Indian policy should be investigated. This history is indeed long, and its contemporary narratives—that is, the public stories it tells about Indians and their rights—are rooted in the colonial period. One of Connecticut Indian policy’s most politically powerful and ancient tales might be titled “Fairness to the Indians.” That narrative is as old as Connecticut’s...

    • How You See Us, Why You Donʹt Connecticut’s Public Policy to Terminate the Schaghticoke Indians
      (pp. 195-212)

      The reversal of the Schaghticokes’ federal recognition was the pinnacle of Connecticut’s effort to terminate its relationship with this tribe as well as the two remaining state-recognized tribes, the Eastern Pequots and the Golden Hill Paugussetts. With this critical victory in its pocket, Connecticut refuses to acknowledge its obligations to the Schaghticoke people and their reservation lands. During the campaign to reverse the Schaghticokes’ federal acknowledgment, Connecticut took the position that the tribe was not self-governing and relied heavily on outside governments, in particular the state, to resolve internal disputes. By refusing to acknowledge the Schaghticokes, or to “see” them,...

    • The Nipmuc Nation, Federal Acknowledgment, and a Case of Mistaken Identity
      (pp. 213-234)

      The decision to rely on an erroneous designation of a Nipmuc ancestor from a nineteenth-century document provides an opportunity to deny the ancestry—and thus the authenticity—of a large percentage of the Nipmuc nation in its federal acknowledgment case. Several issues and questions are highlighted in this case: Why do historical documents written by outsiders in the past and interpreted by outsiders in the present continue to influence the rewriting of tribal history? What courses of redress do indigenous groups have following processes that clearly lack integrity and seek to deny their authenticity? And most important, the inaccurate perceptions...

  6. PART III Contemporary Recognition Controversies

    • A Right Delayed The Brothertown Indian Nation’s Story of Surviving the Federal Acknowledgment Process
      (pp. 237-262)

      One of the many critical issues facing indigenous people worldwide is recognition from the colonizing government under which they now live. Despite an understanding that true sovereignty is inherent—it comes from within rather than from an external body—many indigenous governments seek some level of recognition from their country’s dominant governing body. It is almost as if those who survived colonization want an acknowledgment of their continued existence. This matter is complicated, however, when the dominant governing body is seeking to decrease the number of indigenous people within its borders. In the United States, many of the tribes the...

    • From ʺBoston Menʺ to the BIA The Unacknowledged Chinook Nation
      (pp. 263-286)

      The modern Chinook nation is descended from the Chinookan peoples of the Lower Columbia River. In 1851, the Chinooks signed a treaty with the U.S. government, though the Senate never ratified the agreement. Today, descendants of the signatories to the treaty continue to fight for the recognition of their nation. In 2002, the federal government denied their petition for acknowledgment under the 1978 Branch of Acknowledgment and Research (BAR) regulations. The Chinooks continue to explore avenues to federal acknowledgment, including the possibility of gaining legislative recognition. The federal acknowledgment process judges the Chinooks through the lens of the U.S. political...

    • Mapping Erasure The Power of Nominative Cartography in the Past and Present of the Muwekma Ohlones of the San Francisco Bay Area
      (pp. 287-310)
      LES W. FIELD, Alan Leventhal and Rosemary Cambra

      In the twentieth century, the erasure of the Ohlones, the indigenous people of the San Francisco Bay area, was constructed around the unilateral and arbitrary termination of their relationship with the federal government in 1927, on the one hand, and an “extinction sentence” inscribed by Alfred Kroeber in his authoritative tome,Handbook of the Indians of California(1925), on the other.¹ But the processes by which the presence of Ohlone peoples in their aboriginal territories was decisively obscured and disestablished had been ongoing since the initiation of the Spanish colonial regime in the late eighteenth century. These processes involved transformation...

    • Precarious Positions Native Hawaiians and U.S. Federal Recognition
      (pp. 311-336)

      In 1903, following the U.S.-backed illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom and the unilateral annexation of the islands in 1898, the U.S. federal government passed legislation acknowledging the indigenous people of Hawai‘i. More than a century later, over 160 federal statutes address the conditions of Native Hawaiians in the areas of health, education, labor, and housing. Some observers have argued, therefore, that the U.S. Congress has already recognized that a “special relationship” exists between the United States and the Native Hawaiian people and that it should be formalized through the process of federal recognition of a Native Hawaiian governing entity....

  7. Afterword
    (pp. 337-344)

    The preceding chapters have more than ably described, analyzed, and evaluated a powerful and ever-shifting set of clashing, interconnecting, yet overlapping issues, including indigenous sovereignty and self-determination, federal and state recognition/acknowledgment or denial of the same for native peoples, congressional plenary power and the trust relationship, and the role that international accords should play in the recognition of human rights for native nations in the United States.

    Since the broad subject of political recognition of one polity by another polity is a dynamic topic, as fluid and meandering as the great river systems in North America, it is safe to...

  8. Appendix: Useful Resources for Further Study
    (pp. 345-348)
  9. Contributors
    (pp. 349-352)
  10. Index
    (pp. 353-365)