Through the ebook’s second half, recounting developments since World War II, Treuer’s counternarrative to Brown takes its fullest type. In explicit, his detailed assessments of what he calls “becoming Indian” spotlight the resiliency and dynamism of up to date tribal communities. Interrelated processes rooted in household and tradition, he suggests, undergird the persevering with sovereignty of fashionable Indian tribes. Such processes, he exhibits, are in actual fact ubiquitous. They are additionally deeply private. For occasion, as he concludes about his mom’s adjuration to preserve his household’s strategies of ricing, looking, sugaring and berry harvesting, “sovereignty isn’t only a legal attitude or a political reality.” Sovereignty is lived. It is inhabited, carried out and enacted, typically each day. It also can change into as empowering as it’s cherished: “To believe in sovereignty,” Treuer writes, “to move through the world imbued with the dignity of that reality, is to resolve one of the major contradictions of modern Indian life: It is to find a way to be Indian and modern simultaneously.” As the political theorist Glen Coulthard (Yellowknives Dene) equally suggests, culturally particular, place-based relationships root Native peoples not solely with their homelands but in addition with moral obligations and an ethical worldview that he phrases “grounded normativity.”
Family, relationships and place-based sovereignty are a significant characteristic of up to date Native America, whose collective “heartbeat” has grown stronger all through the Self-Determination Era. The legacies of conquest, nonetheless, proceed, and Indian communities nonetheless endure beleaguering disparities. They additionally proceed to confront authorized and political challenges, in addition to threats of violence. Treuer writes that lately the United States Supreme Court has been “shaped by the questions of community and obligation between the government and several Indian nations.” But he might need famous as properly that since 1978 the courtroom has common a “common law colonialism” that chips away at the flexibility of tribal courts to implement felony and civil legal guidelines towards non-Indians, whereas environmental degradation and the extraction of assets plague Indian communities disproportionately.
Increasingly, colonial battles have moved from Wounded Knee to Congress, the place Native communities have, at occasions, been victorious. “In 2013, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA),” Treuer writes, “was reauthorized and significantly revised. Among the new provisions was the empowerment of tribal courts to charge and prosecute non-Natives who raped or assaulted Native women on Native land.”
Such statutory reforms supply tribal communities alternatives to reform misguided courtroom rulings, and political advocacy has change into an efficient mechanism for safeguarding group members, implementing environmental laws and additional institutionalizing sovereign authority inside tribal communities. Indeed, working with Congress has change into a standard characteristic of up to date American Indian politics. Treuer speaks of “a slew of laws” handed within the 1990s and 2000s which have empowered Native peoples.
Threats to tribal sovereignty, nonetheless, loom. Shortly after the VAWA reauthorization, Dollar General Corporation took a case to the Supreme Court contesting tribal authority over civil affairs. In 2016 it almost gained with a courtroom that divided four to four. Legal challenges like this one have change into among the many 21st century’s major landscapes of confrontation.
Ultimately, Treuer’s highly effective ebook suggests the necessity for soul-searching concerning the meanings of American historical past and the tales we inform ourselves about this nation’s previous. There is an urgency to trend new nationwide narratives. Treuer’s suggestion, for instance, that Indian peoples have been contaminated by colonialism with a illness “of powerlessness … more potent than most people imagine” may very well be prolonged to embody the subordination skilled by different gendered, racialized and traditionally disempowered communities. This illness additionally has the potential to unfold even additional, as a result of it can’t merely be up to America’s indigenous folks to ward it off. As Treuer explains, “This disease is the story told about us and the one we so often tell about ourselves.”