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Honors Thesis/Project Advisor for this Particular Submission:

Kathleen A. Brown-Perez

UMass Amherst


Under the guise of Manifest Destiny, American Indians have been systematically reduced in size and numbers since the period of European contact. Their political authority over their land and themselves has been essentially removed through unilateral treaties, and by United States policies. The government has also taken on genocidal and ethnocidal policies against American Indian groups under the false pretense of assimilation and Christian benevolence, which has actually led to violence against native peoples and more illegal appropriation of their lands. The latest manifestation of governmental ethnocide is through the federal recognition process, which strips natives of their right to define themselves and makes it nearly impossible for groups to assert their autonomy. This paper argues that the process of federal recognition needs to be dramatically altered as well as the criteria for membership of native tribes in order to maintain the integrity of American Indian political, social, and cultural systems.