Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Interdisciplinary Studies (MIS)

Degree Name

Interdisciplinary Studies

Committee Chair

Robert Baker, English Literature

Commitee Members

Robert Baker, English Literature Richmond Clow, Native American Studies Douglas MacDonald, Anthropology


Indian, non-Indian, civilized, uncivilized, colonialization, decolonization, Pyrrhonian skepticism, satire, humor, buckskin


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Epistemology | Indigenous, Indian, and Aboriginal Law | Legal History | Other American Studies


This thesis is a skeptical treatment of the logical distinctions presumed to exist between “Indian” and “non-Indian” people. Despite representing 99 percent of the U.S. population, “non-Indians” represent a legal identity which has no explicit definition. The basis for the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions regarding non-Indians and Indians rests not on any objective, empirical or logical criterion or proof, but rather on the “assumption of a ‘guardian-ward’ status. This thesis investigates this assumption, and recommends that we suspend judgment on whether the difference between “Indians” and “non-Indians” can be determined either by logical argument or by legal assumption.



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