Governance Under State Recognition

Governance Under State Recognition

"Recognition refers to how other governments view a nation, not how a nation views itself or how it acts. Neither federal nor state governments grant sovereignty to Indigenous peoples."

–Danielle Hiraldo

Recognition—also referred to as “acknowledgement”—is the formalization of a government-to-government relationship between a settler-colonial government and a Native nation government. In the United States, there are two different recognition classifications: federal and state. Each designation offers tribes a political relationship with an external government as one avenue of many to assert governing authority. State recognition might be defined as a political relationship with the state in which the tribe shares geography. Alexa Koenig and Jonathan Stein (2008) argue, “Much like federal recognition, it [state recognition] operates as a means for states to acknowledge the longstanding existence of tribes within their borders and to establish a government-to-government relationship to coordinate and communicate with tribes” (86).

Tribal Recognition in the United States

Publications & Projects

Project Muse

Much of the nation-building literature in the United States documents the successful strategies many federally recognized tribes use to build healthy and sustainable communities according to their own needs. These Indigenous self-government discussions often overlook state-recognized tribes...

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“If You Are Not at the Table, You Are on the Menu”: Lumbee Government Strategies under State Recognition

Analysis of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina illuminates how a state-recognized community has developed successful strategies outside of federal recognition to operate as a nation...

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Managing Land, Governing for the Future: Finding the Path Forward for Membertou

This in-depth, interview-based study was commissioned by Membertou Chief and Council and the Membertou Governance Committee, and funded by the Atlantic Aboriginal Economic Development Integrated Research Program to investigate methods by which Membertou First Nation can further increase its decision-making power over economic development. Membertou has made significant economic strides but increasingly struggles against the limits of Canada’s Indian Act, especially in terms of land management...

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The Rise of Indigenous Recognition- Implications for Comparative Politics

Recent decades have ushered in a new era for the recognition of Indigenous rights. Today, more than half of all United Nations member states recognize some form of Indigenous governance in their constitutions (Holzinger et al 2019), and dozens more have done so statutorily. This marks the culmination of a shift in the international consensus around Indigenous-state relations – from the assimilation of Indigenous peoples into nation-states throughout most of the twentieth century to a contemporary recognition of their collective rights to self-determination...

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