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Power from PowerlessnessTribal Governments, Institutional Niches, and American Federalism$
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Laura Evans

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199742745

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199742745.001.0001

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American Indian Tribal Governments ’ Fight for Change inside Institutions

American Indian Tribal Governments ’ Fight for Change inside Institutions

(p.3) 1 American Indian Tribal Governments ’ Fight for Change inside Institutions
Power from Powerlessness

Laura Evans (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter reviews the puzzle of American Indian tribal governments' political successes. Institutional niches in the federal government provide tribes with subtle outside help with cultivating expertise. Expertise then matters because it provides building blocks for future political victories—building blocks that are easily overlooked by scholars. Institutional niches help marginalized groups with developing technical policy expertise, provide opportunities to get to know the external environment, and offer exposure to a variety of strategies and organizational forms. Groups can maintain and improve a niche's support by seeking modest yet serial adjustments in their access to officials, in overall policy frameworks, and in the specific technical procedures of federal agencies. While institutional niches may seem unremarkable in a single snapshot, their effects accumulate into impressive outcomes with wide-ranging consequences. Variegated institutions such as federalism matter because they enable quiet successes.

Keywords:   American Indians, tribal governments, institutional niches, expertise, marginalized groups, federalism

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