This paper examines the idea of treaty by turning to the works of two Yankton Dakota thinkers: Ella Cara Deloria (1889-1971) and her nephew Vine Deloria Jr. (1933-2005). Through their writings, the paper traces a notion of treaty as a mode of extending practices of social kinship. More than legal “contracts,” treaties function as relationship frameworks that allow diverse social groups to imagine themselves in solidarity that includes the more-than-human world. This paper ultimately argues that we should look to specific Indigenous visions of treaties as alternative sites of worldmaking that extend beyond rights “reserved” within the settler-colonial treaty-system.
David Myer Temin is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan. His research and teaching interests are in the subfield of political theory, with a special focus on the politics of settler colonialism in North America (19th-20th c.), Native American and Indigenous Political Thought, and the politics of race and empire. Professor Temin is currently finishing a book manuscript entitled Remapping Sovereignty: Indigenous Political Thought and the Politics of Decolonization, which draws on archival research to ask how the political thought of Indigenous activist-intellectuals has reshaped central concepts of sovereignty, land, and citizenship across democratic and critical theory.