Description: This study tested theoretical propositions concerning agenda-setting by minority political groups in the United States to see if they had the scope to be applicable to American Indian tribes or if there were alternative explanations for how this group places its agenda items on the formal agenda and resolves them. Indian tribes were chosen as the case study because they are of significantly different legal and political status than other minority groups upon which much of the previous research has been done. The study showed that many of the theoretical propositions regarding agenda-setting by minority groups were explanatory for agenda-setting by Indian tribes. The analyses seemed to demonstrate that Indian tribes use a closed policy subsystem to place tribal agenda items on the formal agenda. The analyses demonstrated that most tribal agenda items resolved by Congress involve no major policy changes but rather incremental changes in existing policies. The analyses also demonstrated that most federal court decisions involving Indian tribes have no broad impact or significance to all Indian tribes. The analyses showed that both Congress and the federal courts significantly influence the tribal agenda but the relationship between the courts and Congress in agenda-setting in this area of policy are unclear. Another finding of the study was that tribal leaders have no significant influence in setting the formal agendas of either Congress or the federal courts. However, they do have some success in the resolution of significant tribal agenda items as a result of their unique legal and political status. This study also contributed to the literature concerning agenda-setting by Indian tribes and tribal politics and study results have many practical implications for tribal leaders.
Date: May 1990
Creator: McCoy, Leila M. (Leila Melanie)