To be or not to be American : Statehood and Peoplehood in Native American Self-identification during the Self-determination era

Sammanfattning: As colonized peoples Native Americans have had a complicated relationship to the United States. They have faced the question of whether they should demand tribal independence or embrace American citizenship. During the early 1970s, when radical ethnic and political movements occupied center stage in the United States, and in 1992, when the 500 year anniversary of Columbus discovery of America was celebrated, the issue of Indian American identification was actualized. The various possible ways in which Native Americans could identify in relation to the United States made their identification often seem contradictory. The same group and even the same individual could  identify as both part of and apart from the United States. Likewise, the same event could trigger different identifications in relation to the United States. How can this be explained?In this thesis I offer an explanation of Indian American identification that combines the perspectives of world view and historical context. Native Americans have related to two different world views, a Western world view which imagines a world made up of states, and a "traditional" Indian world view which imagines a world made up of peoples placed on their lands by the Creator. Different ways of understanding the world impacted how Native Americans understood "America," as USA or Indian ancestral homelands. Different world views provided different images of Native American relationship to the United States. These images could be put forward or be actualized in different contexts. The historical context influenced which images were most commonly chosen. During the 1970s, given the period's generally revolutionary discourse, more separatist images were prominent. In 1992, when a government-to-government relationship between tribal and federal governments was firmly established, Indians chose a more inclusive relationship to the Untied States.