Identity Delegitimization and Eco-Enterprise: A Comparative Study of the Process of Disenrollment in Native American Communities




McRae, Janice R.

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This dissertation describes the process of contemporary internal fragmentation resulting from tribal disenrollment (loss of citizenship) which has occurred in some Native American communities. Employing a comparative analysis approach, it explores three groups, the Cherokee, the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians and the Las Vegas Paiute, each having experienced recent economic gain through such enterprises as casino gaming. Through the analysis of narrative discourse, this research focuses on the disenrollment experience from the perspective of those who have been expelled. It provides a view of how this in-group conflict has resulted in social emotional distress as community decision-makers and leaders exercise their sovereign rights in determining who does and who does not belong. The study explores how such decisions act as constraints and, thereby, elicit efforts of resistance to the altering of salient identity markers – a process which is explored through the realm of modernization and economic transition. This research is intended to provide a glimpse of the impact of historical occurrences on contemporary decision-making impacting Native societies, individual identity and belonging. Finally, it attempts to explore avenues for community healing and reconciliation and provides a look at broader implications for the understanding of discord within groups.



Disenrollment, Intragroup conflict, Native American, American Indian, Casino gambling, Conflict resolution