Uncivil Rights: The Abuse of Tribal Sovereignty and the Termination of American Indian Tribal Citizenship

Author: Kenneth N. Hansen, California State University, Fresno, USA
Email: kennethh@mail.fresnostate.edu
Published: April 4, 2020

Citation: Hansen, K. N. (2020). Uncivil Rights: The Abuse of Tribal Sovereignty and the Termination of American Indian Tribal Citizenship. IAFOR Journal of Cultural Studies, 5(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijcs.5.1.03


Starting in the 1990s, an increasing number of Indigenous people have been removed from tribal rolls, denying them basic citizenship rights, including due process, private property rights, jobs, voting rights, and the like. Popularly known as disenrollment, these individual and family terminations have increased in number and frequency as casino tribes have increased their wealth, and federal courts have decided not to hear cases on individual civil rights violations pertaining to Indigenous peoples. Indians are supposed to be protected from their tribal governments by the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968, but it is not enforced by many tribal councils, courts, or federal agencies. This paper analyzes the contributing factors to disenrollment, such as casino gaming and past federal termination policy, along with quantitative data on the numbers of Indians disenrolled from their tribes. Of the 80 or so tribes contained within the borders of the US that have disenrolled substantial portions of their citizenry, 24 of those are located in California. The question is whether there are commonalities to the cases involved in these purges, or if it is simply a matter of bad behavior on the part of some that is emulated by others.


disenrollment, tribal sovereignty, Indian Civil Rights Act, termination, citizenship rights, human rights, casino gambling


This is a revised version of the article, uploaded May 5, 2020. See the Corrigendum here for details of the changes made to the manuscript: https://iafor.org/journal/iafor-journal-of-cultural-studies/volume-5-issue-1/article-3-corrigendum/