As American Indian tribes seek to overcome centuries of political and social marginalization, they face daunting obstacles. The successes of some tribal casinos have lured many outside observers into thinking that gambling revenue alone can somehow mend the devastation of culture, community, natural resources, and sacred spaces. The reality is quite different. Most tribal officials operate with meager resources and serve impoverished communities with stark political disadvantages. Yet we find examples of Indian tribes persuading states, localities, and the federal government to pursue policy change that addresses important tribal concerns. How is it that Indian tribes sometimes succeed against very dim prospects?In Power from Powerlessness, Laura Evans looks at the successful policy interventions by a range of American Indian tribal governments and explains how disadvantaged groups can exploit niches in the institutional framework of American federalism to obtain unlikely victories. Tribes have also been adept at building productive relationships with governmental authorities at all levels. Admittedly, many of the tribes' victories are small when viewed on their own: reaching cooperative agreements on trash collection with municipalities and successfully challenging other localities for more control over fisheries and waterway management. However, Evans shows that in combination, their victories are impressive-particularly when considering that the poverty rate among American Indians on reservations is 39 percent. Not simply a book about American Indian politics, Power from Powerlessness forces scholars of institutions and inequality to reconsider the commonly held view that the less powerful are in fact powerless.
Oxford University Press; April 2011
- ISBN 9780199876617
- Read online, or download in secure PDF format
- Title: Power from Powerlessness
- Author: Laura E. Evans
Imprint: Oxford University Press
In The Press
"Power from Powerlessness directs our attention away from headline-making victories of marginalized groups. Instead, Evans argues convincingly that the pathway from oppression to influence is paved slowly, by building capacity and targeting specific institutional opportunities over many years. In politics, as in markets, slow accumulation beats the ephemeral chase for quick returns."--Archon Fung, Professor of Democracy and Citizenship, School of Government, Harvard University
"Evans' adroit analysis, anchored solidly in the public policy literature, provides an insightful explanation of how Indian tribes have marshaled their expertise and limited political capital into a strategy of political efficacy."--Dan McCool, Professor of Political Science, University of Utah, and author of Native Waters
"Evans has produced a sterling account that clearly and emphatically explains how Native nations have strategically marshaled their meager resources to more effectively govern, notwithstanding the oppressive conditions they have and, to an extent, still experience in the U.S."--David E. Wilkins (Lumbee), Associate Professor of American Indian Studies, Political Science, and Law, University of Minnesota
About The Author
Laura E. Evans is Assistant Professor in the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington.