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November 17, 2011






International borders are complex places. 


While they mark separations (political, cultural, and economic) they also are sites of convergence, places where nations, peoples, and environments meet and connect. Along borders are continuities as well: ecosystems, relationships, and human communities. What borders often fail to be, ironically, is definitive.


For Indigenous peoples living near international borders that separate the United States from Canada, Mexico, and Russia, the two sides of the boundary may compose a single contiguous space: a homeland, or a network of relationships reaching far back to a distant past. 


In these regions, Indigenous ideas and practices -- many of them multiple centuries old -- meet U.S. border policies head-on, raising challenges both for the governments of the countries involved and for Native nations themselves.


But policy discussions about U.S. borders seldom include Native voices and seldom take Native views into account. And they rarely address how policies designed to protect international borders drastically affect Native nations that live near those borders or are divided by them.




NATIVE NATIONS AND U.S. BORDERS provides a timely discussion about the historical and contemporary effects of international borders on the Indigenous nations of the United States.


The book's authors, researchers at the University of Arizona's Native Nations Institute, review how Native nations along or near the U.S. borders with Mexico, Canada, and Russia have responded to border-related challenges to citizenship, crossing rights and border security, culture, the environment and natural resources, and public health and safety. 


Native Nations and U.S. Borders seeks to inform discussions of border policy at all levels of government -- tribal, local, state, and federal -- and is intended to be a resource to Indigenous leaders; federal, state, and municipal policy-makers and authorities; researchers; and nongovernmental organizations involved in border regions.






- Introduction

- Border Nations: On the Margins, In the Middle

- U.S. Borders and Indigenous Peoples: A History

- South: The U.S.-Mexico Border Region

- North: The U.S.-Canada Border Region

- Far North: Alaska's Border Regions

- Conclusion: A Seat at the Table

- Bibliography

- Index


103 pages | 60 images | 10 maps

ISBN 9781931143356 (softcover) | $19.95 (US)

Udall Center Publications, Tucson, Ariz.


About the Authors

Rachel Rose Starks is research coordinator and a senior researcher with the University of Arizona's Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy (NNI). Jen McCormack is a research analyst with the NNI and a doctoral candidate in the UA School of Geography and Development and American Indian Studies Program. Stephen Cornell is director of the UA Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, co-director of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, and a faculty associate of the NNI.

Financial support for the preparation and publication of this book came from the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation.


For More Information


Visit NNI Shop to view a sample chapter or to order the book.

Robert Merideth 
Editor in Chief 

Ariel Mack Graphic Designer

Emily McGovern Editorial Associate and Research Analyst


Established in 1987, the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy sponsors policy-relevant, interdisciplinary research and forums that link scholarship and education with decision-making. The Center specializes in issues concerning: (1) environmental policy, primarily in the Southwest and U.S.-Mexico border region; (2) immigration policy of the United States; and (3) Indigenous nations policy.



The Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy (NNI), founded in 2001 by the Morris K. Udall Foundation (now Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation) and The University of Arizona and housed at the Udall Center, serves as a self-determination, governance, and development resource for Indigenous nations in the United States, Canada, and elsewhere.

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