Politics & Policy

Representation and lobbying by Indian nations in California: Is tribal lobbying all about gaming?

Boehmke, F.J.; Witmer, R.C.


American Indian nations, as pre-constitutional sovereigns, occupy a unique place in the USA. While tribal governments are able to exercise numerous rights as independent nations, they are often affected by policy decisions at the federal and state level. Yet little is known about the specific efforts of American Indians to seek representation in state legislative decision making. We address this shortcoming by answering two related questions. First, do American Indians and Native organizations lobby for public policy at the state level? If they do lobby, as we expect, do they focus solely on gaming given its role in providing an important source of economic development, or do they seek representation on a wide range of issues? Using data from the California legislature for the years 2000–2012, our findings suggest that American Indians seek representation via lobbying on a wide range of issues, including, but not limited to, Indian gaming. We posit that these findings support prior work on the political incorporation of American Indians as they seek representation on public policy issues.