Date of Award

January 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Research

First Advisor

Cheryl Hunter


This study examined the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) of 1975 specific to the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians (TMBCI). The purpose of this study was to provide evidence as to the impact of the ISDEAA on the Tribe as well as if, and how, the Tribe set their own definition of self-determination, above and beyond the definition of the ISDEAA. This study also examined the tensions that exist between the federal government and the TMBCI using federal policies such as the ISDEAA.

Tribal Critical Race Theory (TribalCrit) and Content Analysis were used as the theoretical framework and methodology, respectively. TribalCrit allowed for a discussion to unfold that would take into account colonization that has held Native peoples captive within western systems as it is positioned to analyze power and authority. Content analysis, on the other hand, provided a structure that allowed for the analysis of written text, tribal meeting minutes.

While the ISDEAA was operational for the TMBCI, it did not appear to further self-determination efforts for the TMBCI. Rather, it limited self-determination as the only mention of the ISDEAA was in regard to contracting set activities such as construction for which processes and procedures were plainly laid out to which the TMBCI had to comply. This clearly speaks to the authority of federal rule as opposed to the TMBCI self-determining and as such, the ISDEAA appears to have further embedded the concept of colonization.

On the other hand, however, TMBCI appears to have an internal definition of self-determination. This was witnessed through examples such as chartering a tribal community college and implementing a culturally responsive Teacher Education program.

In terms of values, there was a definite tension between the values of individuality versus community interest. From the side of the federal government, it appeared that the value of individuality was a key component underlying policies while the TMBCI appeared to be more concerned with community interest. The TMBCI, however, also provided a venue for individual expression as noted in instances such as the Relocation policy.