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2020 | Book

Sovereignty and Land Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United States

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About this book

This book presents a comparative study of the land settlements and sovereign arrangements between the US government and the three major aggregated groups of indigenous peoples—American Indians, Native Alaskans, and Native Hawaiians—whose land rights claims have resulted in very different outcomes. It shows that the outcomes of their sovereign claims were different, though their bases were similar. While the US government insists that it is committed to the government-to-government relationship it has with the tribes, federal authority severely limits the ability of tribal governments to participate as an equal partner.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter
Chapter 1. Introduction
Abstract
This chapter introduces the main issues that will be discussed in the book, which are land, sovereignty, and economic development. Land is one of the most important, valuable, and versatile assets available to any group. The ability of an indigenous tribe to own and control land enhances its opportunity for economic growth and wealth acquisition in a variety of ways. Land also provides a physical place for people to exist momentarily and over time, the latter affording the opportunity for the development of cultural identity and the accumulation of a people’s history. In the case of sovereignty, it is an absolute necessity for a political entity to have some level of sovereignty in order to engage in any real form of self-determination—if one is not making decisions for oneself, then someone else is making decisions for you. Economic development is discussed specifically as it relates to the level of political sovereignty a group has and the availability and productivity of the land it possesses.
Wayne Edwards
Chapter 2. A Very Brief History of the Relationship Between Indigenous Peoples and the US Government
Abstract
The history of the legal relationship between three major groups of indigenous peoples—American Indians, Native Alaskans, and Native Hawaiians—and the US government is summarized and discussed. Particular attention is paid to the treaty history and sovereign and land settlements from first contact (with the US government) to the present. The experiences across the three groups are compared in order to demonstrate the surprising differences between them. In general, American Indians have the most political sovereignty, Native Alaskans have less sovereignty, and Native Hawaiians remain politically unrecognized at the federal level.
Wayne Edwards
Chapter 3. Sovereignty
Abstract
Political sovereignty is defined and discussed in this chapter, in both legal and theoretical frameworks. The importance of sovereignty to indigenous peoples is emphasized. Native groups in the United States who have some level of political sovereignty have a hybrid sort that is subordinate to the federal authority. It is similar to the level of sovereignty that states have, but somewhat less. Tribes can engage in self-determination only to the extent that the federal authority allows it through consultation with tribes via the government-to-government relationship that the parties maintain. In order for an indigenous group to have political sovereignty, it must be officially recognized by the US government. The recognition process is discussed in detail.
Wayne Edwards
Chapter 4. Economic Outcomes of People
Abstract
The economic outcomes of American Indians, Native Alaskans, and Native Hawaiians are discussed and compared in the context of land settlements and differences in political sovereignty. The curious result at the aggregated group level is that the American Indians and Native Alaskans, who have the most political sovereignty, have the worst economic outcomes. Native Hawaiians, who have no federal political sovereignty, have the best outcomes overall. The reasons for these differences are not obvious. The higher level of integration of Native Hawaiians into the broader outside society might have allowed more prosperity compared to the other groups who remained more separated, but there are great differences in other circumstances unrelated to political status as well.
Wayne Edwards
Chapter 5. The Value and Use of Land
Abstract
In this chapter the conflicting goals for the use of land that exist for indigenous peoples are discussed. The formative basis for the goals depends at first on the nature of the control that the people in question have over the land. In the case of American Indians with reservations, their political sovereignty allows them a great deal of leeway when considering what uses to put to their land. Alaska Natives have fewer alternatives because they do not inhabit politically sovereign space, but the corporations they are members of do have private ownership of land and therefore can employ it as they see fit within the bounds of the applicable external governing authority. Native Hawaiians have the fewest choices, and they face the most challenging means of communicating their preferences because they have no political autonomy and no organization over any private land. They do have opportunities to apply for leases in Hawaiian Home Lands that offer the potential for them to live on land that is in some way their own.
Wayne Edwards
Chapter 6. The Future of Indigenous Sovereignty and the Paths for Native Development in the United States
Abstract
This chapter discusses options and strategies for indigenous groups to address sovereignty, self-determination, and economic growth. The connection between land use and the partial political sovereignty of indigenous groups in the United States is the starting place for examining different options and goals of governing bodies. Of particular importance are land use options and opportunities for sovereign groups that do not exist for tribal entities that hold only private land. The differences across the three major groups of indigenous peoples—American Indians, Native Alaskans, and Native Hawaiians—are discussed and compared.
Wayne Edwards
Chapter 7. Conclusion
Abstract
In the final chapter of the book, alternatives for the future of political sovereignty are discussed and compared across groups. The basic choices from the broadest perspective are simply to continue with the current level of sovereignty, decrease it, or increase it. The best alternative for tribes would be to increase the level of political sovereignty that they have, but that is extremely unlikely, based upon the long history of their relationships with the federal government. The chapter is therefore dedicated to possible outcomes under the other two possible trajectories for sovereignty. Ultimately, the most important characteristic that should be maintained is for the tribes themselves to decide their own fate, not an external political entity.
Wayne Edwards
Backmatter
Metadata
Title
Sovereignty and Land Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United States
Author
Wayne Edwards
Copyright Year
2020
Electronic ISBN
978-1-137-59400-6
Print ISBN
978-1-137-59399-3
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-59400-6