The Rise of Indigenous Recognition: Implications for Comparative Politics


Recent decades have ushered in a new era for the recognition of Indigenous rights. Today, more than half of all United Nations member states recognize some form of Indigenous governance in their constitutions (Holzinger et al 2019), and dozens more have done so statutorily. This marks the culmination of a shift in the international consensus around Indigenous-state relations – from the assimilation of Indigenous peoples into nation-states throughout most of the twentieth century to a contemporary recognition of their collective rights to self-determination. This transition has profound implications for governance in modern states and, in turn, for the study of comparative politics. In recognizing self-governance and self-determination rights for Indigenous peoples, the emerging Indigenous rights paradigm envisions a degree of political and societal heterogeneity that seemingly challenges the state’s aspirations to monopolize political, social, and territorial control within its borders. The recognition of collective rights, by many accounts, also stands in tension with liberalism’s emphasis on individual rights and thus has implications for representation within democratic polities.

Resource Type

McMurry, Nina, Danielle Hiraldo and Christoper L. Carter. "The Rise of Indigenous Recognition: Implications for Comparative Politics". APSA-CP Newsletter Vol. XXXI, Issue 1, Spring 2021. pp. 93-99. Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International. Washington, DC.

Related Resources

State Recognition of American Indians

State-tribal relations have a long and complex history in the United States. States’ government- to-government relationships with tribes continue to evolve, taking many forms, including formal recognition. Usually accomplished through legislative action, state recognition of American Indian tribes…

Thumbnail or cover image
Policy Brief: Native Nation Rebuilding for Tribal Research and Data Governance

Indigenous Peoples conducted research long before their interactions with European settlers. Whether through observation or practice, research in a non-western context was woven into Indigenous ways of knowing and being. It continues to inform Indigenous Knowledges of landscapes and natural…

Federalism and the State Recognition of Native American Tribes: A Survey of State-Recognized Tribes and State Recognition Processes Across the United States

In the last few years, states and tribes have increasingly realized that state recognition can serve as an important, albeit limited, alternative to federal recognition. This realization is evidenced by the many states that have recently codified their state recognition processes or are planning to…