“Jobs and American Indian Sovereignty: The Challenge of Gaming”
In the 20th century, Native Americans asserted sovereignty rights by demanding access to jobs in industries operated by non-Indian employers on reservation land. With the expansion of the Indian gaming industry since the 1980s, tribes have struggled to maintain control over the workplace itself, not simply as workers, but as managers and owners of gaming establishments. Drawing from the Katherine Spilde Collection, O’Neill will discuss how union organizing in Indian casinos has complicated decolonization efforts and has challenged American Indian governments to create new governing institutions.
Colleen O'Neill is an associate professor of history at Utah State University and former coeditor of the Western Historical Quarterly. She received her PhD in history from Rutgers University and her publications include: Working the Navajo Way: Labor and Culture in the Twentieth Century and a coedited collection, Native Pathways: American Indian Culture and Economic Development in the Twentieth Century. She has published her work in The Journal of American History, the New Mexico Historical Review, and Labor History and in edited collections, Indigenous Women and Work: From Labor to Activism, and Indians and Energy: Opportunities and Exploitation. Her current book project, Labor and Sovereignty, examines the changing meaning of wage work for American Indian communities in the twentieth century.