Tuesday, June 15, 2021

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II. THE LEGAL STATUS OF AMERICAN INDIANS

Conferring American citizenship on all Indians born in the United States was but one of a series of actions taken by the federal government to redefine Indian legal status to suit its purposes. Throughout its history, America has sought to categorize Indians under its law in a variety of ways. At least four different approaches have been taken: (1) treating Indians as citizens of separate nations, (2) treating Indians as wards of the federal government, (3) treating Indians as American citizens, and (4) treating Indians as members of a racial minority group. Despite the efforts taken to have one uniform definition apply, indecision as to how best to deal with the “Indian problem”, as well as the wide diversity of self-governing capacity that exists amongst the Indian nations, has prevented any one definition from have any conclusive effect.

 

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