On the face of it, the protests, court filings and the stand-off between activists and authorities over the Dakota Access Pipeline pits those who want to boost energy production against those who want to protect water resources around the Missouri River. At a deeper level, however, the controversy over the DAPL is part of a much larger and older fight over the idea of Indian nationhood. This month David Nichols traces the history of Native sovereignty and the struggle to make the United States honor the obligations of treaties it has signed with Native nations.

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