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Tribal Constitutionalism: States, Tribes, and the Governance of Membership

Kirsty Gover

Abstract

In settler societies, tribal self-governance creates a legal distinction between indigeneity (defined by settler governments) and tribal membership (defined by tribes). Many legally indigenous persons are not tribal members, and some tribal members are not legally indigenous. This book considers the membership rules included in the constitutions and membership codes of nearly 750 recognized tribes in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States. It addresses the first-order question of tribal constitutionalism: who are the members of tribes, and how are they chosen? The question is of practical and theoretical import. A large proportion of indigenous peoples in each state are not enrolled in a recognized tribe, and the majority of indigenous peoples do not live near their tribal territories. The book's empirical study challenges many of the assumptions used to model tribalism in theories of cultural pluralism, especially those that depict tribes as distinctively insular, ascriptive, and territorially-confined. The book shows that while they are descent-based groups, tribes also self-constitute relationally, by enrolling non-descendants in accordance with cultural and social criteria, and by recruiting from other indigenous communities. The book draws on tribal law and practice, political theory, legal doctrine, policy, and demographic data to critically assess the strategies used by tribes and states to manage the jurisdictional and ideological challenges of tribal membership governance.

Bibliographic Information

Kirsty Gover, author


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Contents

Tribal Constitutionalism - States, Tribes, and the Governance of Membership by Gover, Kirsty (1st December 2010)