Long dismissed as relics of a primitive past, indigenous peoples are increasingly seeking international recognition and protection of their rights to land, water, and fundamental human freedoms. Anthropologist Bradley Reed Howard surveys the struggles of indigenous groups for self-determination in the United States and internationally, calling crucial attention to the urgent need for native social and political representation. Indigenous Peoples and the State presents an overview of the confrontation between tribal groups and both nation-states and international organizations, Howard places indigenous issues within the larger context of the work of nongovernmental agencies, United Nations initiatives on human rights, and national self-determination. Two specific case studies of indigenous legal status and rights - involving the Iroquois in the United States and the Maori in New Zealand - illuminate native peoples claims to sovereignty, traditional culture, territory, and natural resources. Ethical problems inevitably arise in any attempt to define identity.
Investigating the complex issues of colonialism and culture, Howard reveals that anthropologists have at times played a complicit role in tribal subjugation. He emphasizes the contributions many cultural anthropologists have nevertheless made to the progressive transformation of law and recognizes their efforts to preserve indigenous cultures and natural habitats. Anthropological approaches, Howard maintains, offer the best hope for understanding the magnitude of indigenous peoples' worldwide endeavors to attain human rights. Bold and persuasive, Indigenous Peoples and the State offers extraordinary anthropological and legal support for the declarations and aspirations of indigenous peoples.