The concepts of self-determination and sovereignty, from an Indigenous perspective, embrace values, attitudes, perspectives, and actions. Of course, as a result of the historical phenomenon known as colonialism, in which expansive European states sought to dominate the rights, resources, and lands of aboriginal people worldwide, one cannot discuss Indigenous self-determination and sovereignty without some corresponding discussion of how states and their policy makers understand these politically charged terms as well.

I have been thinking, acting, researching, and writing on these two vital concepts, intergovernmental relations, critical legal theory, and comparative Indigenous politics for nearly two decades. Along with this, I have also been interested in how the American states and the federal government, and international states and non-governmental organizations and the various political actors and social, economic, geographical, and cultural forces active in those polities have set about defining themselves and how their understanding of their own institutional identities have affected Native peoples.

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Copyright © 2008 Peter Lang Publishing. This chapter first appeared in Foundations of First Peoples’ Sovereignty: History, Education & Culture. Edited by Ulrike Wiethaus.

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