American Studies ETDs

Publication Date



This is the story of the ways in which the Western Shoshone have articulated identities amidst the ever-changing structures of governance that have defined U.S.-Native intergovernmental relations since the early days of U.S. efforts to colonize the American continent. However, the story focuses on nuclear colonialism. At issue is the specific nature of tribal participation in nuclear waste policy under emergent conditions of possibility as defined by U.S.-Native intergovernmental interactions (or a lack thereof). Ultimately, then, it is a story of how the Western Shoshone have articulated adaptive identities to assure survivance both physically and culturally to combat U.S. efforts to "kill the Indian and save the man" by attempting to gain a voice as a sovereign nation in the nuclear waste policy process. To tell this story I propose to examine the factors that have shaped Native nations' ability to exercise sovereignty in intergovernmental relations and nuclear waste policy negotiations. This means specifically considering the nature and outcome of such interactions for the Shoshone as they have been engaged by and in the nuclear waste policy debate. Thick description is used to answer these questions by examining the ways the Western Shoshone have been excluded and included in the nuclear waste policy process, by whose choice, when, and how. The goal is to try to devise a mechanism for assuring that contentious public policy issues are more culturally sensitive and conciliatory such that they effectively serve the interests of more rather than fewer stakeholders in a given context.




Nuclear, Waste, Storage, Western, Shoshone, Public, Participation, Public, Policy, Yucca, Mountain

Document Type


Degree Name

American Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

American Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Alyosha Goldstein

Second Committee Member

Vera Norwood

Third Committee Member

Bradley T. Cullen

Fourth Committee Member

Hank C. Jenkins-Smith