(Tribal) sovereignty and illiberalism

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JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. Liberalism struggles with an ancient paradox. That is, it must navigate the sometimes treacherous course between individual autonomy and pluralism's accommodation. In this Article, I argue that this philosophical tension has manifested in very concrete intrusions on American Indians' tribal sovereignty. On the one hand, tribal sovereignty guards Indian nations' inherent right to live and govern beyond the reach of the dominant society. This "measured separatism" embodies liberalism's commitment to the accommodation of pluralism. On the other hand, critics charge that imposing liberalism onto Indian nations is necessary to prevent infractions of individual rights by tribal governments. For these scholars, individual autonomy must always be preferenced above Indian nations' sovereignty. Scholars concerned with illiberal practices perpetrated by tribal governments are increasingly calling for an expansion offederal civil rights laws into tribal communities. But these urgings are rarely accompanied by a thorough and thoughtful analysis of American Indian tribal sovereignty. In fact, most scholars writing in this area fail to acknowledge that expansion of such laws into tribal communities would potentially eviscerate tribal sovereignty and wipe out Indian differentness altogether. Accordingly, based on a detailed

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  • PUI: 47401058
  • SGR: 34548611404
  • SCOPUS: 2-s2.0-34548611404
  • ISSN: 00081221


  • Angela R. Riley

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