Beyond the Trail of Broken Treaties: The International Native American Rights Movement, 1975-1980
O'Neal, Jennifer Rose
This study examines the transformative shift, beginning in the early 1970s, of organized Native American and Indigenous groups within the United States and Canada to internationalize Indigenous activism. It highlights reasons for the international Indigenous evolution, explores and critiques organizational and activist strategies that circumvented the nation-state, and traces how the transition increased Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination, both internationally and domestically. Utilizing core Indigenous decolonizing concepts, as well as evolving human rights frameworks, to expand sovereignty and self-determination, this work argues that Native American activism after the American Indian Movement shifted significantly from a domestic agenda to an international Indigenous initiative.Through a comparative case study model of four Indigenous activists groups across North America, including the International Indian Treaty Council, the National Congress of the American Indian, the National Indian Brotherhood, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, this study examines the complexities of working across colonial imposed international borders to effect political change, the challenges faced by activists to develop a shared international Indigenous movement, and the results of working within an Indigenous transnational movement. By comparing specific organizations and key activists, this examination reveals the ways they de-centered the settler-state and sought their own ways of operating with each other and with other Indigenous peoples across borders and internationally. Moreover, it highlights the influential role of Indigenous transnational organizations in building a foundation for a larger global Indigenous movement that advocated for Indigenous human rights, sovereignty and self-determination.This study utilizes an interdisciplinary approach to examine the social, political, and historical intersections of Native American transnational activism, centered within the fields of history, foreign relations, and Native studies. This research purposefully seeks to center Native American history and international relations directly within the study of foreign relations by applying qualitative grounded theoretical methodologies, rooted in decolonizing methodologies and Indigenous research methods. Thus, this work utilizes and examines this transformative turn in international Indigenous activism through the concepts of grounded normativity, refusal, resurgence, and survivance.
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