Towards a Native Feminist Consciousness: Legal, Tribal and Gender Sovereignty for Native Americans

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The Ohio State University

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My paper examines the 2010 Tribal Law and Order Act, which sought to manage the disproportionate levels of crime on tribal lands, specifically sexual violence against Native American women. However, I argue that this law does not directly address the underlying issues of tribal sovereignty and intersectional oppressions leading to the intense sexual violence against Native American women. As Andrea Smith has argued, sexual violence is a tool of patriarchy and colonialism (2005, 8). The Tribal Law and Order Act, while attempting to create a more safe and secure environment for Native communities, ultimately represents a continuation of the colonial-ideology of past federal Indian policy. It does not deconstruct the U.S. federally imposed systems that restrict tribal sovereignty, justice and safety. It is operating under the same U.S. federal structures and systems that disenfranchise Native peoples. Tribal sovereignty must be reinstated to allow Native communities to directly address the violence against the people on their lands. The sexism, patriarchy and political instability imposed by colonialism have created a hostile society for Native American women. A Native feminist analysis is needed to foster a movement to reinstate tribal sovereignty, de-colonize the society and systems surrounding Native communities, and end the sexual violence against Native American women.



feminism, Native American, tribal law and order act, sexual abuse, federal Indian policy