Natural resource management in Indian country today must continually address colonial histories. In the Cherokee Nation, tribal resource managers are acutely familiar with this history because they deal with its current manifestations daily. This situation reflects both structural issues that stem from the imposed land management programs of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and practical issues in which the results of federal policies like allotment inhibit tribal access to and control over resources within Cherokee Nation boundaries. In this article, I trace the origins of contemporary obstacles to tribal natural resource management in the Cherokee Nation, emphasizing the process of environmental production to explain how myriad actors and forces shaped the western Cherokee landscape. Additionally, I frame tribal resource control and management as an identifiable modern state practice. As such, I explore the dynamics of the Cherokee Nation as a uniquely indigenous state—one that is struggling to balance its ability to assert indigenous approaches toward environmental management with its power to regulate its own citizens' access to sparse lands and resources.

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