The evolving nature of federalism: The tribal-state relationship

Aaron L. Mason
Dept. of Ethnic Studies, Northern Arizona University
July, 2006


This dissertation explores the issue of tribal-state relations within the larger context of American Federalism. In order to do this, the dissertation considers the history of federal Indian policy and the nature of traditional notions of federalism. In addition, it analyzes the results of a survey sent to state Indian Affairs Offices in thirty eight states. The survey poses three basic categories of questions. The survey reveals a number of findings. First, the tribal-state relationship is often both qualitatively and quantitatively different from state to state. Second, state officials generally are optimistic about the future of the tribal-state relationship in their states. Third, a number of states are now engaging in the practice of state recognition of non-federally recognized tribes. Fourth, state governments use a variety of bureaucratic structures and arrangements to accomplish their tribal-state relationships. These findings are considered not only for their individual merits, but also in terms of their impacts upon American Federalism.