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Review Policy

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Indigenous Policy Journal Vol. XX, No. 3 (Fall 2009)

Book Review Essay
Reviewed texts: The Politics of Minor Concerns: American Indian Policy and Congressional Dynamics, by Charles Turner. University Press of America, 2005. Taking Charge: Native American Self-Determination and Federal Indian Policy, 1975-1993. George Pierre Castile. University of Arizona Press, 2006.

Why has there been so little social science research trying to explain recent changes in Federal Indian policy, particularly given the dramatic shifts of the last 40 years? Since 1970 the previous policy of termination gave way to an evolving selfdetermination policy, a dramatically expanded role for tribal governments, and the emergence of large scale Indian gaming. Even with these striking changes - and the expansion of Indian affairs as a policy area – there have been only a handful of social science analyses of the Indian policy domain (most notably Gross 1989). Much recent scholarship in the area has been primarily descriptive or interpretive (Castile 1992, Bee 1992), with research commonly driven by area expertise rather than guided by policy related theory. In his nuanced and theoretically-driven account, Charles Turner argues that Indian policy, like many other areas, is a "minor concern" to both policymakers and policy analysts. As such, Indian policy often doesn't fit the conditions or provide the variables featured by main theoretical approaches to explaining policy outcomes more generally. Unlike most analyses, Turner gathers and utilizes quantitative data to explore Indian policy outcomes. The strength of the analysis is that Turner challenges and tests a number of widely asserted interpretations of Indian policy 1

Steinman. Book Review Essay.

Indigenous Policy Journal Vol. XX, No. 3 (Fall 2009)

formation. Most centrally, he examines the common understanding that Indian...

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