History of American Indians and the United States

Sovereignty and Federal Policy

Dr. Kane

mkane2@albany.edu Humanities 109 | MWF 9:20 - 10:15 PM

Office Hrs: M 10:20 - 11:20 & F 1:30 - 3:30

Social Science 60S

Friday, September 1

coming up

  • No class Monday Sept 4
  • Academic Honesty quiz Sept 11
  • Policy piece due Monday Sept 18 (BB)

topics from First Peoples we will discuss in more depth

  • who "counts" as Native and how
  • reservation gaming
  • health and alcohol issues
  • nuclear waste and enviromental impacts
  • powwow history and culture
  • education, historical and modern
  • law enforcement and prosecution
  • National Museum of the American Indian

First Peoples, Ch10

  • why do some non-Native groups sometimes oppose recognition petitions?
  • why do some states and individuals object to casinos on reservations?
  • why did the federal govt have a legal and financial obligation in the Cobell case? (pgs 633-635)


  • who exercises power in an area
  • from conquest, from God, from collective agreement, from relationship to land
  • rights existed before contact - treaty rights are not "given"
  • treaties are between two equal nations
  • usufruct vs. dominion rights

powers of sovereignty

  • taxation and public funds spending
  • defining citizens and their rights
  • law enforcement
  • government to government relations
  • sole and exclusive authority
  • independent internal decision making

federal recognition

  • must comprise a distinct community
  • have existed as a community from historical times
  • must have retained a considerable measure of Indian culture
  • must have political influence over its members
  • must have membership criteria
  • must have membership of individuals who descend from a distinct tribe and are not members of any other tribe

domestic dependent nations

  • cannot have independent foreign relations
  • limited powers of sovereignty - partial powers of self govt
  • federal trust relationship
  • "Indians not taxed"
  • within but not part of American nation

settler colonialism

  • US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand
  • Finland, Israel, far eastern Russia
  • land is required for population expansion and resources
  • Native people hold land
  • Native people do not consent to be governed
  • "logic of erasure"
  • connection to slavery & "one drop rule"

Native America today

  • Termination era 1920 - 1975
  • Indian Citizenship Act - 1924
  • Public Law 280 - 1953
  • Indian Self-Determination Act - 1975

why #NoDAPL?

  • violation of federal trust relationship
  • violation of federal treaties
  • violation of reserved rights in federal treaties
  • legacies of 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie

Trump administration changes to keep an eye on

  • BIA appointments
  • BIA budget reductions
  • defunding of Indian Health Services in healthcare reform
  • privatization of federal trust lands
  • end of land consolidation policy