Enduring Legacies Native Case Studies

Case Study

The Will of the People: Citizenship in the Osage Nation

Author:Dennison, Jean, University of Florida

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This teaching case tells the story of Tony, one of nine Osage government reform commissioners placed in charge of determining the "will of the people" in reforming the government of the Osage Nation. Because of Congressional law the Osage Nation had been forced into an alien form of government for a hundred years. Recent legislation has reversed this and has recognized the Osage Nation's sovereign right to determine its own citizenship and form of government. As part of this case, students will analyze the highly charged debates over citizenship that took place during Osage community meetings. From these perspectives students will be asked to write referendum questions covering the central issues at stake with Osage citizenship. This case provides an opportunity for students to explore a range of issues including American Indian citizenship and sovereignty, the power and danger inherent in racial identity, and the process of community-based reform.

Updated: July 27, 2007