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Catalog Archive / Fall 2022

In Defense of Sovereignty
Protecting the Oneida Nation's Inherent Right to Self-Determination
Foreword by Richard Monette

With contributions by James R. Bittorf, William Gollnick, Frederick E. Hoxie, Arlinda F. Locklear, and James W. Oberly

“This valuable book lays out the features of a legal and political strategy to defend a reservation boundaries case. This material is thrilling where tribal citizens detail their ongoing, real-world struggles with the Village of Hobart. Successful and compelling.”
—Matthew L. M. Fletcher, author of Ghost Road: Anishinaabe Responses to Indian-Hating

A nuanced history by an Oneida Nation citizen directly involved in the litigation

The Oneida Nation has been engaged in legal conflicts to retain its sovereignty and its lands since forced removals in the 1820s from New York to what would become the state of Wisconsin. Legal scholar Rebecca M. Webster examines this history, including the nation’s treaties with the US and focusing especially on its relationship with the village of Hobart, Wisconsin. Since 2003, six disputes have led to litigation—the result of attempts by the local government to regulate the nation, repudiate its sovereignty, and relegate its government to the position of a common landowner, subject to municipal authority.

In Defense of Sovereignty shares the perspective of a nation citizen directly involved in the litigation, augmented by contributions from historians, attorneys, and a retired nation employee. It is an intimate and unflinching account of the impact of these jurisdictional battles and what is at stake for the future. Its lucid analysis is an invaluable contribution to public debates about the inherent right of Indigenous nations to continue to exist and exercise self-governance within their territories without being challenged at every turn.


Rebecca Webster. Photo credit, Stephanie Stevens. Rebecca M. Webster, an assistant professor in the American Indian studies department at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, is a former senior staff attorney for the Oneida Nation.




“A compelling account of the Oneida Nation’s struggle to retain its sovereignty and its reservation lands. It offers hope that Indian nations can preserve their cultural and political integrity and continue to prosper and thrive.”
—C. Kent McNeil, author of Flawed Precedent: The “St. Catherine’s” Case and Aboriginal Title



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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword by Richard Monette
Introduction: This Will Be Our Legacy
Rebecca M. Webster 1 The Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and the Oneida Indian Reservation, 1821–1880
James W. Oberly
2 From Allotment to the Indian New Deal, 1887–1934
Frederick E. Hoxie
3 Evolution of a Nation
William Gollnick
4 Condemnation: Resisting Development on Nation-Owned Land
Rebecca M. Webster
5 Dispatching the Police: Brown County and Oneida Nation Intergovernmental Agreement
Rebecca M. Webster
6 Overcoming Restrictive Covenants to Reacquire Reservation Land
Rebecca M. Webster
7 Stormwater Taxes: “Anyway There Are No Tribal Debts to Hobart”
Rebecca M. Webster
8 The Big Apple Fest Case: The Village of Hobart’s Failed Attempt to Put an End to the Oneida Reservation and Obtain Control over the Oneida Nation
James R. Bittorf and Arlinda F. Locklear
9 Rebuilding the Nation’s Land Base, One Fee-to-Trust Application at a Time
Rebecca M. Webster
Conclusion: “Dear Sir: I Am an Oneida Indian Living on the Reservation”
Rebecca M. Webster
Glossary of Key Terms


Of Related Interest


Wisconsin and the Shaping of American Law
Joseph A. Ranney


Indian Mounds of Wisconsin
Second Edition
Robert A. Birmingham and Amy L. Rosebrough

In Defense of Sovereignty: a red and purple cover with white and purple corn-like tassles emerging from the top and bottom of the page. The title text is written in all capps in the center of the page, between the two corn-tassles.

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February 2023
LC: 2022022453
208 pp. 5.5 x 8.5

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Casebound $27.95
ISBN 9780299340605
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