Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Conflict Resolution

First Advisor

Richard Clemmer-Smith, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Tamra Pearson d'Estree, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Christina Kreps

Fourth Advisor

Christopher Teuton


Indigenous sovereignty, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, United Nations, Indigenous groups


Using the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, this study was designed to understand how indigenous groups assert their sovereign rights in conflict situations, and how they can be most successful in doing so.

Two instances of indigenous-state conflict were analyzed and compared both to each other and to a baseline of what sovereignty in conflict is, based on the United Nations Declaration. Data to be analyzed and compared was gathered through extensive archival research and interviews with tribal members and other interested parties.

The results documented the interaction between indigenous groups and state/provincial and federal governments in conflict, and suggested that indigenous groups should assert their sovereignty both in the courts, for long-term success, and using other methods to build a power base that will contribute to short-term success. The data also suggests that key components necessary for indigenous groups in general to assert sovereignty in conflict situations include a united front with strong leadership and no corruption; having enough strength to gain attention and assert sovereignty; a continuous assertion of sovereignty through action; and an ability to see beyond the legal paradigm in using other methods either alone or in conjunction with appealing to the courts. These conclusions lead to suggestions for ways that indigenous groups can improve their assertion of sovereignty in conflict situations. The study itself also gives a guide to those engaged in similar situations as to how sovereignty can be better respected in resolution processes and outcomes.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Christina Farnsworth


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

188 p.


Cultural anthropology, Native American studies