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Fishing rights and gay marriage have been testing grounds in the struggle for Native sovereignty. This essay reveals that, though these issues seem unrelated, their origins lie in federal policies aimed at assimilating Native people into capitalist systems. Forcing Native people to give up traditional food sources and kinship systems in favor of wage labor, sedentary farming, and compulsory heterosexuality ultimately freed land and resources for settler profit. From allotment to commodity food programs, federal Indian policy imposed norms of settler society onto Native communities. Given their common genesis, this essay examines how contemporary discourses around gay marriage and the right to fish frame state-sanctioned rights as the ultimate goal and thus reinforce the legitimacy of the settler state. Linking these struggles creates space to rethink the meaning of sovereignty in terms of decolonization rather than a politics of recognition

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