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Policymaking in the Forced Federalism Era

29 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 22 Sep 2009

Richard C. Witmer

Creighton University


University of Iowa - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2009


In the past few years, scholars in Political Science and American Indian Studies have identified a change in the relationship between Indian nations, the United States Government and state governments across the country. This important, and expanding, relationship in public policy making focuses on the devolution of public policy decisions from the federal/tribal level to an expanded state/tribal relationship (Corntassel and Witmer 2008, Steinman 2004). This paper first touches on the transition to the Forced Federalism era, beginning with the Indian Gaming and Regulatory Act of 1988 (IGRA). Second, we identify the types of legislation proposed and passed in the American states during this new era. Third, we consider a number of possible explanations for legislative activity including institutional, constituent, state/tribal relations and state political measures. Our findings suggest that states with an established institutional structure in their legislative and executive branches are more likely to propose and pass American Indian related legislation. Similar findings for constituent measures were evident, namely that the size and percentage of the population that is American Indian. Other explanatory factors such as whether a gaming compact had been signed, state political ideology, initiative and unified government were less likely to increase the number of proposed and passed legislation.

Suggested Citation

Witmer, Richard C. and BOEHMKE, FREDERICK J., Policymaking in the Forced Federalism Era (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN:

Richard C. Witmer (Contact Author)

Creighton University ( email )

2500 Calif Plaza
Omaha, NE 68178
United States

Frederick J. Boehmke

University of Iowa - Department of Political Science ( email )

Iowa City, IA 52242
United States

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