Thursday, March 2nd, 2005
LAND TENURE CENTER
140 Science Hall
550 N. Park Street
"Tribalism v. Individualism, Territory v. Property: Sovereignty in the Balance"
The most effective tool for genocide by the United States against First Nations and their peoples has been to use deliberative machinations of law and politics to separate their governments from their citizens. No action by the United States has been more effective in this regard than separating the First Nations' territories from their citizens' properties.
The General Allotment Act (1887) drove a wedge between First Nations and their peoples, imposing an unnecessary land reform in Indian country deviating widely from what First Nations already had. The Indian Reorganization Act (1934) imposed an alien governmental system that further drove the people from their government. Meanwhile, the so-called "trust responsibility" enabled the Federal government to purport to disregard First Nation governments by directly managing their citizens' trust resources and assets.
Government run, yet often religious based, boarding schools and employment "relocation" programs separated First Nation citizenries from their property.
Finally, for purposes of this talk, a First Nation "membership" model based on racial factors rather than a citizenship model based on political factors continues to facilitate the disjunction between First Nation governance and the lives and property of those they would govern. If First Nations don't come to understand this formula and assert their own determination, they will dissolve.
Associate Professor, Law School
Faculty Advisor, Great Lakes Indian Law Center