Public lecture by James Oberly

“The Continuing Battle over American Indian Sovereignty: Legal Attacks on Tribal Existence in 21st Century”

By James Oberly, Fulbright Lecturer, Karoli Gaspar Reformatus Egyetem, Spring 2013

Time: 2 pm April 23rd (Tuesday)

Place: Room X of the Institute of English and American Studies (Egyetem u. 2., földszint)


Economic development represents one of the main challenges for American Indian tribal governments. A few tribes struck it rich in the 1990s with casino projects, but for most tribes, casino revenues have fallen during the prolonged economic downturn. Rising commodity prices, especially for oil, gas, and minerals have led some US tribes to welcome drilling and mining as a means of economic development. Others have decided to fight new drilling and mining endeavors as a perceived environmental threat to the quality of tribal land and water. The basis for tribal sovereign decision-making is the “trust” status of American Indian reservation land. Over the past decade, the process of protecting American Indian land-in-trust has come under attack by political and economic groups opposed to tribal sovereignty. This presentation considers the mix of economics, law, history, and culture from the viewpoint of tribes practicing limited sovereignty within a federal political system.


James Oberly studied history at Columbia University (USA) for his B.A. degree (1975). He studied history at the University of Rochester (USA) for his masters degree (1977) and Ph.D. degree (1983). He has taught history at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (USA) since 1983. He has been a visiting scholar in the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research at the University of Michigan (USA) the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota (USA) and the University of Winchester (UK). This year he holds the Laszlo Orszagh Chair in American Studies, awarded by the Hungarian-American Fulbright Commission. He has studied Hungarian language and culture at the Debrecen Summer Institute, starting with beginner classes and continuing to intermediate classes.