Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2012


Great Plains Research, Volume 22, Number 2, Fall 2012, pp212-213


© Copyright 2012 by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Native Acts is organized in three parts. In the first ("Recognition"), Barker (correctly) argues that the United States government exercised its plenary power to coerce Native peoples to recognize themselves as "Indian tribes." In part 2 ("Membership"), she discusses tribal membership policies as a legal frame through which Native peoples-now organized into semisovereign states called "tribes"-define themselves in relation to the U.S. government. In part 3 ("Tradition"), Barker examines how "tribal traditions" can turn on racist, sexist, and homophobic policies that themselves become cultural acts of identity formation. Federal Indian Law-the body of federal law that governs the relationship between the U.S. government and a recognized tribe-is ossified with just the sort of doctrines and inherited traditions that Barker thoughtfully calls into question. She frames the paradox well. Historically, tribes secured federal recognition if and when they defined themselves in terms that furthered colonialist, social Darwinist ideologies.