Title

CONSTITUTIVE IDENTITY AND THE EVOLUTION OF TRIBAL SOVEREIGNTY

Presenter Information

Jake Yerger

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

As it pertains to Native Americans, the tension between the law and society has, over time, resulted in significant political and legal consequences. My paper examines the evolution of tribal sovereignty under federal law in an attempt to uncover some of the prevailing historical causes of the unique status of Native Americans under the law, and how history has played its role in determining social conditions on tribal lands. I maintain that the rhetorical construction of European self-identity contributed to the perception of native peoples as existing apart from white society in the United States from the colonial era onward. Work by several scholars of rhetoric and political discourse is presented to demonstrate how the collective self-identity of a people can be constituted through discourse, and how that discourse can determine the actions of a given people. The work of Maurice Charland, who first edified the theory of constitutive rhetoric, is given primacy in this discussion.

In the case of Europeans in North America, a discourse which promoted the primacy of the colonizing nation, combined with the hostility of Native Americans to the establishment of colonies on the Atlantic coast, led to a perception that native peoples existed at odds with civilization. Examination of US Supreme Court decisions, legislation enacted by Congress, and the experiences of Native Americans as documented by historical case study demonstrate that this attitude remained intact after Native American lands became part of the United States. Statistical data and other scholarly work suggest that this perception is partly responsible for the social conditions in which Native Americans now live.

Category

Social Sciences

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Apr 15th, 4:00 PM Apr 15th, 4:20 PM

CONSTITUTIVE IDENTITY AND THE EVOLUTION OF TRIBAL SOVEREIGNTY

UC 332

As it pertains to Native Americans, the tension between the law and society has, over time, resulted in significant political and legal consequences. My paper examines the evolution of tribal sovereignty under federal law in an attempt to uncover some of the prevailing historical causes of the unique status of Native Americans under the law, and how history has played its role in determining social conditions on tribal lands. I maintain that the rhetorical construction of European self-identity contributed to the perception of native peoples as existing apart from white society in the United States from the colonial era onward. Work by several scholars of rhetoric and political discourse is presented to demonstrate how the collective self-identity of a people can be constituted through discourse, and how that discourse can determine the actions of a given people. The work of Maurice Charland, who first edified the theory of constitutive rhetoric, is given primacy in this discussion.

In the case of Europeans in North America, a discourse which promoted the primacy of the colonizing nation, combined with the hostility of Native Americans to the establishment of colonies on the Atlantic coast, led to a perception that native peoples existed at odds with civilization. Examination of US Supreme Court decisions, legislation enacted by Congress, and the experiences of Native Americans as documented by historical case study demonstrate that this attitude remained intact after Native American lands became part of the United States. Statistical data and other scholarly work suggest that this perception is partly responsible for the social conditions in which Native Americans now live.