"Building the nation back up" : The politics of identity on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

Sammanfattning: This dissertation deals with the formation of a discourse on ethnic identity among theOglala Lakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The material upon whichthis study is based is literature, archival material, and approximately eleven months offieldwork in 1991, 1993 and 1994. The emergence of a discourse on Lakota identity isseen in the light of the modern predicament in which previous foundations of self-identification have been increasingly eroded. The formulation of identity revolves aroundcompeting interpretations of `tradition', `blood', and `history'. Since these interpretations are contextual, it will be argued that they cannot appropriately be accounted for interms of different competing groups. Focus is here rather placed on the specific structureof reservation life which continuously regenerates a polarization on differentsociopolitical levels. In reservation politics, opponents are frequently charged with lowauthenticity, i.e for not qualifying as Lakota. Identity is thus a limited good, the accessto which is the focus of intense negotiation and conflict. The discourse on identityemerges as a problem in which `the contents' of identity become objectified. A case inpoint is the emergence of a Lakota historiography which is new, not so much withrespect to its contents as to its logic. It will be argued that indigenist discourse reproduces the very logic of dominant discourse. In the light of this, the locus of resistance toencompassment lies in those forms of identity construction which are not objectifyingand which therefore do not reproduce this logic.

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