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Originally published in 1974, just as the Wounded Knee occupation was coming to an end, Behind the Trail of Broken Treaties raises disturbing questions about the status of American Indians within the American and international political landscapes. Analyzing the history of Indian treaty relations with the United States, Vine Deloria presents population and land ownership information to support his argument that many Indian tribes have more impressive landholdings than some small members of the United Nations. Yet American Indians are not even accorded status within the UN's trust territories recognition process. A 2000 study published by the Annual Survey of International and Comparative Law recommends that the United Nations offer membership to the Iroquois, Cherokee, Navajo, and other Indian tribes. Ironically, the study also recommends that smaller tribes band together to form a confederation to seek membershipÑa suggestion nearly identical to the one the United States made to the Delaware Indians in 1778Ñand that a presidential commission explore ways to move beyond the Doctrine of Discovery, under which European nations justified their confiscation of Indian lands. Many of these ideas appear here in this book, which predates the 2000 study by twenty-six years. Thus, Behind the Trail of Broken Treaties anticipates recent events as history comes full circle, making the book imperative reading for anyone wishing to understand the background of the movement of American Indians onto the world political stage. In the quarter century since this book was written, Indian nations have taken great strides in demonstrating their claims to recognized nationhood. Together with Tribes, Treaties, and Constitutional Tribulations, by Deloria and David E. Wilkins, Behind the Trail of Broken Treaties highlights the historical events that helped bring these changes to fruition. At the conclusion of Behind the Trail of Broken Treaties, Deloria states: "The recommendations made in the Twenty Points and the justification for such a change as articulated in the book may well come to pass in our lifetime. " Now we are seeing his statement come true.
The message of The Nations Within is an urgent on, and should be read by anyone concerned with American Indian affairs today. "Those of us who try to understand what is happening in North American Indian communities have learned to see Vine Delora, Jr., both as an influential actor in the ongoing drama and also as its most knowledgeable interpreter. This new book on Indian self-rule is the most informative that I have seen in my own half-century of reading. Deloria and his co-author focus on John Collier's struggle with both the U.S. Congress and the Indian tribes to develop a New Deal for Indians fifty years ago. It is a blow-by-blow historical account, perhaps unique in the literature, which may be the only way to show the full complexity of American Indian relations with federal and state governments. This makes it possible in two brilliant concluding chapters to clarify Indian points of view and to build onto initiatives that Indians have already taken to suggest which of these might be most useful for them to pursue. The unheeded message has been clear throughout history, but now we see how--if we let Indians do it their way--they might more quickly than we have imagined rebuild their communities."--Sol Tax, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of Chicago