Articulating indigenous statehood: Cherokee state formation and implications for the UN Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples

Clint Carroll

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Scopus citations


When I first heard the news of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, it evoked simultaneous feelings of pride and excitement, frustration and cynicism. As an indigenous citizen of the United States – one of the four settler-states that opposed the Declaration – perhaps this is not surprising. Yet, out of my cynicism came an acute realization that, as an international action, the Declaration had presented the global state community with a political litmus test that exposed (although simplistically) the unique relationships between indigenous peoples and the states into which they have found themselves subsumed. Thus, it is not shocking that the four settler-states, whose hegemony is most threatened by the existence of indigenous polities, originally voted it down. In highlighting on a global stage the persistence of colonial relations between indigenous peoples and settler-states, it seems that the Declaration has already served an important purpose. Further, as an international act of recognition and an affirmation of indigenous rights to self-determination, the Declaration represents a significant political accomplishment. Continuing in this frame of mind, I would like to offer a critical discussion of the Declaration while celebrating the momentous achievement it represents. I am mainly concerned with how the Declaration speaks to indigenous political formations and their international status, with a specific focus on American Indian nations in the United States. In my reading, there are two articles in the Declaration that address this issue directly: Article 5 Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural lifeof the State. Article 34 Indigenous peoples have the right to promote, develop and maintain their institutional structures and their distinctive customs, spirituality, traditions, procedures, practices and, in the cases where they exist, juridical systems or customs, in accordance with international human rights standards.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIndigenous Rights in the Age of the UN Declaration
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9781139136723
ISBN (Print)9781107022447
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2012.


Dive into the research topics of 'Articulating indigenous statehood: Cherokee state formation and implications for the UN Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this