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Deadliest Enemies

Law and Race Relations on and off Rosebud Reservation

2007
Author:

Thomas Biolsi

Deadliest Enemies

How U.S. federal law creates racial conflict between Native American and white people

In Deadliest Enemies, Thomas Biolsi connects the origins of racial tension between Indians and non-Indians on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota to federal laws, showing how the courts have created opposing political interests along race lines. Biolsi demonstrates that the court's definitions of legal rights—both constitutional and treaty rights—make solutions to racial tensions intractable.

This book is required reading for everyone living in the United States because all of our fortunes began with the process of appropriating land and resources from American Indians.

Kathleen Pickering

Many people living far away from Indian reservations express sympathy for the poverty and misery experienced by Native Americans, yet, Thomas Biolsi argues, the problems faced by Native Americans are the results of white privilege.

In Deadliest Enemies, Biolsi connects the origins of racial tension between Indians and non-Indians on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota to federal laws, showing how the courts have created opposing political interests along race lines. Biolsi demonstrates that the court’s definitions of legal rights—both constitutional and treaty rights—make solutions to racial tensions intractable.

This powerful work sheds much-needed light on racial conflicts in South Dakota and in the rest of the United States, and holds white people accountable for the benefits of their racial privilege that come at the expense of Native Americans.

Deadliest Enemies

Thomas Biolsi is professor of Native American studies at the University of California at Berkeley.

Deadliest Enemies

This book is required reading for everyone living in the United States because all of our fortunes began with the process of appropriating land and resources from American Indians.

Kathleen Pickering

A unique and valuable contribution to the literature. It is essential reading for historians, anthropologists, and other Native American studies scholars interested in federal Indian law and the effects of legal and racial discourses on indigenous communities.

Ethnohistory

Biolsi’s stimulating conclusion is that federal Indian law is a discourse that dominates, restructures, and has authority over Indian-white relations, and in so doing, it produces antagonistic race relations and makes ‘deadliest enemies’ out of neighbors. A considerable contribution to a sociological understanding of the role of law.

American Journal of Sociology

Biolsi’s book is as enlightening as it is detailed. An even-handed study of the ambiguities and inconsistencies inherent in Indian law that, because each decision rendered is necessarily a close call between equally valid, contradictory claims, pits tribal and non-tribal members in an ongoing struggle that defies final resolution.

Journal of American History

A valuable contribution to the literature that demonstrates the (current) inability of federal Indian law truly to protect Indian people from their ‘deadliest enemies.’

Pacific Historical Review