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'Not Our Borders': Indigenous People and the Struggle to Maintain Shared Cultures and Polities int he Post-9/11 United States

Sara Singleton


Boundaries are drawn by the winners of territorial contests with little regard for the cultural integrity or internal social relations of those they displace. When national boundaries delineating Canada, the United States, and Mexico were established, they had the effect of bisecting several dozen tribes, leaving relatives on either side of borders, and cutting off access to areas where people from dozens of other tribes or bands had customarily gathered for trade, for socializing, and to participate in religious rites and ceremonies. Tribal governments have struggled with this problem for years. Post 9/11, borders have tightened and difficulties have multiplied. Now tribes are calling for a new deal, one which would allow them to modify Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requirements in order to ensure that tribal members will be able to continue to freely cross borders and to limit what tribes perceive as intrusive searches of regalia, sacred objects, and costumes used in ceremonies. In addition, many tribes are demanding a greater role in, and increased funding for, implementation of DHS policies on reservations. On the other hand, some would argue that the broader public interest in domestic security should override tribal concerns. In this paper I first examine the effects of border security measures on tribes/bands/first nations. Next, I incorporate recent debates on multiculturalism into an evaluation of arguments for and against developing a separate border protocol for indigenous people.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229