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Blood Struggle: The Rise of Modern Indian Nations Hardcover – March 1, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0393051490 ISBN-10: 0393051498

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (March 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393051498
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393051490
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 6.5 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #388,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Reservations, long mired in poverty and oppression, have become rallying points for Native American society, according to this stirring history of the tribal sovereignty movement. Energized by the Civil Rights movement's gains and pressing their claims under long-dormant treaties, Indian tribes have taken control of reservation government from an autocratic Bureau of Indian Affairs, regained lost lands, asserted hunting and fishing rights, jump-started reservation economic development and revived Indian languages and culture. Wilkinson (American Indians, Time, and the Law; etc.), formerly an attorney for the Native American Rights Fund and now a law professor at the University of Colorado, ranges widely over the sovereignty movement, emphasizing the court cases—like the Pacific Northwest salmon controversies and the wrangles over reservation gambling—that have expanded tribal rights. His sympathetic treatment extols the movement's success in redressing historic injustices, but sometimes skates too easily over difficulties in squaring ethnically based sovereignty with principles of democracy and equal citizenship. (He cites one reservation on which 50 Indians controlled a tribal government claiming jurisdiction over 3,000 non-Indian residents.) And he sometimes defends Native American prerogatives by invoking a cultural uniqueness—Indians' spiritual connection to the land, for example, may entitle them to "flexibility" in complying with environmental laws—that smacks of essentialism. But the story of the Native American renaissance is an inspiring one, and this book marks a deserving chapter. Photos. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Wilkinson, a professor of law at the University of Colorado, presents a thorough and uniquely cohesive history of the modern tribal sovereignty movement, beginning with how the U.S. originally negotiated treaties with tribes, in part, to reduce Indian landholdings and limit their political power. In 1887 Congress passed the General Allotment Act, which allowed the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to transfer tribal lands to individual tribal members and open any land not allotted to non-Indians. By 1953 the government terminated all federal services and protections and urged tribes on reservations to relocate to urban centers. The children of the relocated became the Indian professional middle class and the wellspring for the sovereignty movement. Self-determination became government policy in the 1970s, bringing about reform even though the BIA stonewalled requests from tribes to operate their own programs. Activists persisted, pushing through federal legislation, buying back lost tribal land, and resolving fishing and hunting rights. There are still miles to go, but as Wilkinson shows, today's tribes are stronger than they've ever been. Rebecca Maksel
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By S. J. Snyder on November 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
Wilkinson writes a very good overview of the Indian rights movement in the U.S., and how the various tribes, though still lagging overall American standards in many ways, have made economic gains and, above all, self-determination gains, in the last 50 years.

It is true that Wilkinson does overlook the degree of non-Indian hostility to such things as enforcement of off-reservation hunting and fishing rights. He also, to counter the angle of this (and not being an environmenetalist), does not look at how the enforcement of these rights has been used as a scapegoat by Anglos for overhunting, overfishing, and overextraction of other resources such as timber in other Anglo-Indian conflicts.

Another slim area of coverage is the American Indian Movement. Just what was the tension between the more urban, but not anywhere near "urbanized," AIM and reservation tribes? What's Wilkinson's final assessment of how much good, or harm, it did?

Finally, Wilkinson does dive into intra-tribal conflict as much as he could. With the Hopi, for example, he briefly mentions tension between a Washington-driven Hopi constitution and tribal council, on the one hand, and the traditional council of elders, on the other, but never brings to life the depth of this tension, and even conflict, over an issue like Black Mesa.

In other words, this book could well have stood another 50-70 pages and not have been overwritten.

But, enjoy it for what it is.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The second half of the Twentieth Century was a period of great social upheaval in the United States. The changes wrought by the Civil Rights, women's, environmental, and anti-war movements are well-known. Perhaps less well-known, but of great importance, are the changes brought about by American Indian Tribes as they sought to organize their governments, implement and determine their treaty rights, and revitalize their traditional cultures. The story of tribal self-determination is told with eloquence and passion by Professor Charles Wilkinson in his recent book, "Blood Struggle: The Rise of Modern Indian Nations" (2005). Professor Wilkinson is a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Colorado School of Law and the author of twelve books dealing with Indian affairs and with the American West. He is also a distinguished advocate and has worked as counsel to many Indian tribes on matters discussed in this book.

In his comprehensive and readable history, Professor Wilkinson places the self-determination movement against the backdrop of earlier Indian policy. He begins with the General Allotment Act of 1887 in which Congress provided for the division of Reservation lands to individual Indians with the goal of assimilating the Indians into the broader society and selling-off the tribal land base. He follows this with a discussion of Indian policy during the New Deal which partly reversed this trend but which lead to the policy of termination in the 1950s and early 1960s. The termination policy was also assimilationist in nature and had the goal of ending Federal supervision of and the special Federal relationship to Indian tribes.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on June 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Blood Struggle: The Rise Of Modern Indian Nations is the compelling true story of how Indian nations successfully asserted themselves and fought for their rights, including land ownership, salmon fishing, religion, gaming, and self-determination. After the end of World War II, when the American government coveted Indian land, a process called "termination" - a plan to sell off tribal land, disband tribes, and assimilate Native Americans - threatened to effectively native cultures. Yet beginning with a campaign in which Pueblo people persuaded Congress to return their sacred Blue Lake, one by one, Indian tribes started to speak up and call for their rights. These were battles that could be fought and won not by violence, but through politics, and the fruits of victory were reduced poverty, improved health, a lessening of the all-too-common adoption of Indian children out of Indian families, the creation of schools and colleges, the freedom to practice Native American religions and more. A remarkable true story of can-do vindication, and enthusiastically recommended for Native American modern history and reference shelves.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Seth J. Frantzman HALL OF FAME on August 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
There have been a number of first person accounts of the struggles of the American Indian in the U.S. Among these are Russel Means' Where White Men Fear to Tread: The Autobiography of Russell Means, Dennis Banks' Ojibwa Warrior: Dennis Banks And The Rise Of The American Indian Movement. General histories have examined similar subjects such as In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, Incident at Oglala - The Leonard Peltier Story.

But this is the most thorough story of the movement of America's Indian nations towards self rule since 1960. The first portion of the book gives an introduction to American policy towards native tribes, from various treaties to the reservation system and in 1953, the policy of termination or ending government subsidies. The book is made up fo sketches of political battles in Washington and descriptions of the fate of the tribes and their leaders. A vast number of tribes are described and their vairous struggles. Maps are provided for mnay of the tribes.

As the author notes "the modern tribal sovereignty movement has had no single great inspiration leader...Indian country contains 500 seperate and independent peoples.(page 106)" An appendix gives a list of all these tribes.

Interesting chapters detail the Taos Pueblo and their victory in receiving lands.
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