Rez Life

This book will humble you if you think you understand tribal issues in contemporary America. Author David Treuer covers a range of issues while interspersing personal stories with a bit of background on laws and court rulings that have altered the landscape of life on reservations over the years.

Stories center on life on several Ojibwe reservations south of the Great Lakes, but the legal issues are common to tribes throughout the US. As Treurer fleshes out the meaning of “denominated domestic dependent nations,” we learn how tribal sovereignty has been the focus of legal hassles since treaties were first signed with over three hundred tribes around the country. Indians and non-Indians have sought control of fish, forests, minerals, water, and simply the land itself; states have tried to tax and regulate activities on reservations; the federal government has tried to force assimilation through various strategies; and now that casino money is changing the fortunes of many tribes, the matter of who is and who isn’t a member of the various tribes carries new significance.