College of Arts and Sciences
Master of Arts in History - Thesis (MA)
Indigenous, Federal Policy, Native American Policy, Twentieth Century, Native American History
Norris, Ariel Kate, "A True American Citizen: The Intellectual History of U.S. Indigenous Policy From 1890-1968" (2022). Masters Theses. 860.
Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Indigenous Americans witnessed a significant national change in both their political and social status. Despite the persisting belief that Native Americans belonged to a “race destined to fade into the inevitability of progress” and the ongoing categorization of Indigenous individuals as wards of the federal government, by the end of the 1900s, tribes across the nation were deemed to be sovereign entities and were allowed to determine the paths of their own people. This autonomy did not happen overnight, but instead was a direct result of pivotal legislative decisions; struggles such as the assimilation of Native Americans into western society, the consolidation of Indigenous peoples to reservations, the reorganization of tribal political structures, and the segregation of the American Aboriginal race. Though the process of Indigenous self-determination is complex and multi-faceted, its evolution can be contextualized by examining key legislative decisions and identifying the ideological movements that influenced political development.