Endres, Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Utah, 2009 Danielle, “The Rhetoric of Nuclear Colonialism: Rhetorical Exclusion of American Indian Arguments in the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Siting Decision,” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies. March, Vol. 6, No. 1, Page 44
Colonialism in all its forms is dependent on the discursive apparatus that sustains it. Mary Stuckey and John Murphy point out that rhetorical colonialism recognizes that the language used by colonizers is a crucial justification for the colonial project.Caskey Russell argues that a “vast justification systems have been set up to keep colonizers from feeling guilty.” Indian law is an integral part of the discursive system of colonialism that is employed over an over again to grant political sovereignty while simultaneously restricting it. Political sovereignty for American Indians is a complex concept that reveals that US Indian Law views American Indian nations as colonized peoples. It is not based on the inherent sovereignty of American Indian nations but instead upon the laws of the US that grant political sovereignty to American Indians. Yet, when sovereignty is granted, it is dependent upon acknowledgment by the grantor and is therefore vulnerable to coercive restriction. Although the Constitution, hundreds of treaties, and US Supreme Court decisions affirm the political sovereignty of American Indian nations, this form of political sovereignty is egregiously and unilaterally limited by the US federal government through its laws and policies. Three Supreme Court decisions under Chief Justice John Marshall in the early 1800s solidified the assumption that Indian sovereignty is granted an introduced the concept of American Indian nations as “domestic dependent nations.” According to Wallace Coffey and Rebecca Tsosie of the Native American Rights Fund, “the concept of Indian tribes as ‘domestic dependent nations’ means that tribal governmental authority is to some extend circumscribed by federal authority.” The domestic dependent status defined by Supreme Court decisions in the 1860s discursively relegates American Indian nations to a partial and contingent nationhood. The term “domestic dependents” also calls forth paternalistic images of American Indians as child-like dependents who need to be protected by the federal government.Given these restrictions, if American Indian nations attempt to use Indian Law and its notion of sovereignty granted through federal law in their quest for more rights within Indian Law. Although political sovereignty may acknowledge that American Indians have distinct nations and governments, this sovereignty is always defined as dependent on and subordinate to the US federal government.