American Indian Tribes in the United States have a unique legal and political status shaped by fluctuating federal policies and the over-arching history of this country’s brand of settler-colonialism. One of the several legacies of this history is that federally recognized tribes have membership rules that diverge significantly from typical state or national citizenship criteria. These rules and their history are poorly understood by judges and members of the public, leading to misunderstandings about the “racial” status of tribes and Indian people, and on occasion to incoherent and damaging decisions on a range of Indian law issues. This article, which is part of a larger project on tribes, sovereignty, and race, will discuss the history of Florida’s tribes, their road from pre-contact independent peoples to federally recognized tribes, and their contemporary membership criteria in order to shed light on the inextricably political nature of race, membership and sovereignty in the American Indian context.The full article is available here.
Hat tip: Turtle Talk