Cherokee Political Thought and the Development of Tribal Citizenship

Citizenship, a fundamental political idea, exists in many forms in the United States. In this study, I apply the analytical strategies of American political development to examine the evolution of Cherokee constitutional citizenship law since 1827. The lack of political development studies on Cherokee governance presents a unique opportunity to identify foundational and second-story ideas underpinning Cherokee political thought. I contribute to the ongoing discussion of indigenous political development by creating a new theoretical framework for interpreting and analyzing durable shifts in Cherokee citizenship law. As America expands and diversifies, alternate, nonliberal views of citizenship increase in political relevance. Understanding why certain laws exist and where they came from is crucial for cultivating political engagement, engaging in productive discourse, and creating humanizing policies.

Aaron Kushner, Cherokee Political Thought and the Development of Tribal Citizenship, Studies in American Political Development, 2020.