The Boundaries of Indigenous Nationalism: Space, Memory, and Narrative in Hualapai Political Discourse

Jeffrey P. Shepherd, University of Texas at El Paso


This paper investigates the discursive terrain of Hualapai nationalism through narratives about space and historical memory. Scholars have recognized the importance of space and territoriality, as well as narrative, for supporting constructions of the nation. Nations have been interrogated as modern projects that create a sense of unity by drawing boundaries around political and ethnic communities while simultaneously excluding others deemed peripheral to the nation. Thus, nations, nation building, and nationhood represent complex processes of inclusion and exclusion. When applied to Indigenous Peoples in the modern world, the construct of the nation has had uneven and sometimes negative consequences. This paper explores the ways in which Hualapais conceived of themselves as a people, tribe, and nation via the analytical lenses of space, memory, and narrative. It argues that Hualapai national identity requires a multi-faceted understanding of how they have interacted with their aboriginal territory and adapted to the colonial space of the reservation, how they narrated the histories of bands in relation to the imposition of the Indian Reorganization Act government, and how they confronted American colonialism.