Ruling or being ruled? : the development of citizenship in the Cherokee Nation
What does it mean to be a member of a tribal government in the United States? This dissertation answers that question with an analysis of Cherokee citizenship, both as a concept and as a legal condition. Previous work on the Cherokee has been historical, anthropological, or sociological in nature. Political scientists have not yet produced a study of Cherokee citizenship. I fill in this gap in the literature by approaching Cherokee citizenship from three different angles-from the perspective of the Cherokee, of United States officials, and from the descendants of freedmen who live in the Cherokee Nation. I argue that the prevailing explanations for the state of Cherokee citizenship, racial prejudice and acquisitiveness, do not paint a complete picture. Instead, these explanations need to be supplemented with an understanding of the ideological incongruence between Cherokee and American political thought. My ideological incongruence thesis posits that inherent differences between the Cherokee and the United States over how to understand and practice politics has led to struggles over Cherokee citizenship and has subsequently driven the development of Cherokee law. A holistic view of Cherokee citizenship admits three major factors at play" racial prejudice, material acquisitiveness, and ideological tension. This holistic view can help scholars parse through difficult dimensions of indigenous-US relations and lend clarity to debates over the status of tribal governments and their people.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License.