Published on December 30, 2012 by Carol
Author: Loretta Fowler
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Loretta Fowler offers a new perspective on Native American politics by examining how power on multiple levels infuses the everyday lives and consciousness of the Cheyenne and Arapaho peoples of Oklahoma.
Cheyennes and Arapahos today energetically pursue a variety of commercial enterprises, including gaming and developing retail businesses, and they operate a multitude of social programs. Such revitalization and economic mobilization, however, have not unambiguously produced greater tribal sovereignty. Tribal members challenge and often work vigorously to undermine their tribal government’s efforts to strengthen the tribe as an independent political, economic, and cultural entity; at the same time, political consensus and tribal unity are continually recognized and promoted in powwows and dances. Why is there conflict in one sphere of Cheyenne-Arapaho politics and cooperation in the other?
The key to the dynamics of current community life, Fowler contends, is found in the complicated relationship between the colonizer and the colonized that emerges in Fourth World or postcolonial settings. For over a century the lives of Cheyennes and Arapahos have been affected simultaneously by forces of resistance and domination. These circumstances are reflected in their constructions of history. Cheyennes and Arapahos accommodate an ideology that buttresses social forms of domination and helps mold experiences and perceptions. They also selectively recognize and resist such domination. Drawing upon a decade of fieldwork and archival research, Tribal Sovereignty and the Historical Imagination provides an insightful and provocative analysis of how Cheyenne and Arapaho constructions of history influence tribal politics today.