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Seminar discusses issues facing Native Americans in democracy

POSTED AT 10:31 PM ON Nov. 14, 2010  (UPDATED AT 10:31 PM ON Nov. 14, 2010)

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IU’s First Nations Educational and Cultural Center had a seminar Friday that focused on constructing democracy for underrepresented Native Americans in the U.S.

As part of this year’s Native American Heritage Month, the seminar featured political science professor Lauren Maclean to present her research study on tribal consultation and the representation of Native Americans in health policy. Maclean is a member of IU’s Committee on Native American and Indigenous Studies, which co-sponsored the seminar with the American Studies Program, the American Indian Studies Research Institute and the FNECC.

During her talk, Maclean brought up the issue of why certain Native American tribal communities have their voices heard more effectively by federal and state government than other groups.

She also examined how federal and state governments have been influencing the Native American community’s role in health policy-making in the past.

Maclean also discussed disparities among federally recognized tribes and how the long-existing differences between dominant tribes and poor ones have marginalized certain tribes.

The professor then went on to provide suggestions for how small tribal communities can have their voices heard in policy-making by seeking deliberate participation in
bureaucratic policy formulations.

Maclean is about to finish the collection process for her current study of the issue; she said she recently returned from Oklahoma, where she spent time observing tribal-state meetings.

Christina Snyder, assistant professor in the Department of History, said by inviting scholars from different academic areas to the seminar every year, more opinions and voices can be heard regarding Native American issues.

“One of the issues we have at IU is that we have great strength in anthropology but limited resources in other departments to do Native American studies,” Snyder said. “So part of the reason to have people on here is to have those areas represented.”

 

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