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Howard Human & Civil Rights Law Review





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The United States government attempted to eliminate Native Americans through outright physical extermination and later by the eradication of Indian identity through a boarding school system and other "paper genocide" mechanisms. One of those mechanisms is the recognition of some Natives but not the majority, including those who ancestors were enslaved. The assistance provided to recognized tribes by the government is inadequate to compensate for the historical and continuing suffering these people endure. And yet the problem is compounded for those unrecognized Natives whose ancestors were enslaved and whose tribal identity was erased. They are subjected to a double-barreled discrimination. That is, they suffer the same discrimination and deprivation of resources as their recognized brothers and sisters yet are unable to qualify for government assistance. The system thus pits recognized Indians against unrecognized Indians in a struggle for inadequate resources. This leaves the majority of American Indians striving to survive as they attempt to maintain their Indian identity and dignity. While they continue to preserve the cultural and religious practices of their ancestors, they often find themselves to be the victims of "pretendian" attacks. This Article examines an approach to resolving this conflict, respecting the identity and dignity of all Indigenous Americans.

Recommended Citation

Bill Piatt, Respecting the Identity and Dignity of All Indigenous Americans, 6 How. Hum. & Civ. Rts. L. Rev. 83 (2021-2022).



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