While the number of federally recognized Native nations in the United States are increasing, the population figures for existing tribal nations are declining. This depopulation is not being perpetrated by the federal government, but by Native governments that are banishing, denying, or disenrolling Native citizens at an unprecedented rate. Since the 1990s, tribal belonging has become more of a privilege than a sacred right. Political and legal dismemberment has become a national phenomenon with nearly eighty Native nations, in at least twenty states, terminating the rights of indigenous citizens.
The first comprehensive examination of the origins and significance of tribal disenrollment, Dismembered examines this disturbing trend, which often leaves the disenrolled tribal members with no recourse or appeal. At the center of the issue is how Native nations are defined today and who has the fundamental rights to belong. By looking at hundreds of tribal constitutions and talking with both disenrolled members and tribal officials, the authors demonstrate the damage this practice is having across Indian Country and ways to address the problem.
Dismemberment is a truly enlightening study of the history of federal Indian law and policy because of its careful empirical research, compelling analysis, and genuine concern for the people and tribal governments involved.
Dismembered provides a transformative look at the colonially-inspired and federally designed mode of modern tribal self-termination: disenrollment. It is a must-read for anybody concerned about the future of indigenous peoples in America.
David and Shelly Wilkins have done excellent research on the twisted path of disenrollment and banishment. What the federal government tried to do through many failed Indian policies and boarding schools, tribes are now accomplishing through disenrollment. If the current trend continues, tribes will make themselves extinct.
David E. Wilkins is the McKnight Presidential Professor in American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota. He is the coauthor of American Indian Politics and the American Political System.
Shelly Hulse Wilkins is a partner with the Wilkins Forum and specializes in tribal governmental relations.
2. Federal Power and Citizenship in Indian Country
3. A New Deal for Native Citizenship
4. Native Self-Determination
5. The Dismembering Explodes
6. Judicial Interpretations of Dismemberment
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