Keith Richotte Jr.
Claiming Turtle Mountain's Constitution
The History, Legacy, and Future of a Tribal Nation's Founding Documents
University of North Carolina Press 2017
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in LawNew Books in Native American StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network November 20, 2017 Ryan Tripp
In Claiming Turtle Mountain’s Constitution: The History, Legacy, and Future of a Tribal Nation’s Founding Documents (University of North Carolina Press, 2017), Turtle Mountain Tribal Court Associate Justice and UNC-Chapel Hill American Studies Assistant ProfessorKeith Richotte, Jr., offers a critical examination of one tribal nation’s decision to adopt a constitution.
In an auditorium in Belcourt, North Dakota, on a chilly October day in 1932, Robert Bruce and his fellow tribal citizens held the political fate of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians in their hands. Bruce, and the others, had been asked to adopt a tribal constitution, but he was unhappy with the document, as it limited tribal governmental authority. However, white authorities told the tribal nation that the proposed constitution was a necessary step in bringing a lawsuit against the federal government over a long-standing land dispute. Bruce’s choice, and the choice of his fellow citizens, has shaped tribal governance on the reservation ever since that fateful day. By asking why the citizens of Turtle Mountain voted to adopt the document despite perceived flaws, he confronts assumptions about how tribal constitutions came to be, reexamines the status of tribal governments in the present, and offers a fresh set of questions as we look to the future of governance in Native America and beyond.
Ryan Tripp is an adjunct instructor for several community colleges and online university extensions. In 2014, he graduated from the University of California, Davis, with a Ph.D. in History. His Ph.D. double minor included World History and Native American Studies, with an emphasis in Linguistic Anthropology and Indigenous Archeology.