This scholarly encyclopedia explores the troubled relationship between the United States and its Native American peoples. The 681 alphabetically-arranged essays examine the long history of military conflicts, treaty negotiations, federal policies, legal restrictions and cultural differences between the aboriginal tribes and the government officially representing the interests of encroaching settlers. An overview of these official relations is provided by a chronological survey of the Indian policies followed by the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. Other entries describe specific colonial and later government policies in greater detail. The attitude of the Supreme Court is revealed in summaries of court cases and court policy. Early treaties and later legislation also are summarized. Differing cultural concepts, legal doctrines and economic policies are explained. Particular attention is given to issues of education, the environment, land use, natural resources and religious freedom. From the early Beaver Wars to the modern legal battles over casinos and gaming centers, numerous conflicts over land and resources are described. Hundreds of biographical entries describe leading participants on both sides. These include presidents, politicians, soldiers and government agents as well as native chiefs, warriors, religious leaders and modern activists. Other articles explore the role of protest movements, tribal groups and non-governmental organizations in shaping national policies on Native American affairs. Numerous illustrations, maps, article specific bibliographies, a selection of legislative documents, statistics on modern tribes and an excellent index support the text. The result is an outstanding introduction to a crucial issue in American history.
This resource bears comparison with the recent Treaties with American Indians (ABC-Clio, 2008). The two sets overlap in some areas of biographical and cultural content. With its comprehensive coverage of the numerous formal agreements between the republic and the native nations, Treaties with American Indians provides greater detail on the diplomatic relations between the tribes and the American government, particularly through end of the Nineteenth century. However, as the federal government increasingly used legislation, executive agencies, and even the courts to formulate Indian policies, a broader approach is needed to give the full spectrum of processes involved. The Encyclopedia of United States Indian Policy and Law more fully captures this wide range of activity, making it a valuable resource for high school, public and academic libraries.