Identity Politics of Difference

The Mixed-Race American Indian Experience

by Michelle R. Montgomery

"A fascinating account of the very complex landscape mixed-race students navigate. . . . This is a very important empirical and theoretical contribution."

—Nancy López, University of New Mexico

“Seeing beyond the essentialist notion of mixed-raced people as tragic racial victims, Michelle Montgomery reveals how they are complex social actors within a dynamic system of racial hierarchy predicated on whiteness. Her study of a New Mexico tribal college breaks new ground in mixed-race studies by showing how mixed-race Native students experience racial hierarchy in interactions with their Native peers. Ultimately, this book exposes the painful and fragmenting hegemonic impact of whiteness as ideology and white supremacy as a social system, both of which need to be critically examined as part of any coherent decolonization effort.”

—Ricky Allen, University of New Mexico

"Montgomery provides a unique analysis of the mixed-race experience in the American Indian community. Moving beyond the politics of exclusion, Montgomery offers insight into the ways that different identities are valued and performed. Moreover, she allows the participants to describe their own racial assertions, negotiations, and redefinitions in ways that highlight the evolving contours of racial politics in the twenty-first century. This book is a central contribution to anyone serious about studying the changing nature of race in the United States."

—Margaret Hunter, Mills College

In Identity Politics of Difference , author Michelle R. Montgomery uses a multidisciplinary approach to examine questions of identity construction and multiracialism through the experiences of mixed-race Native American students at a tribal school in New Mexico. She explores the multiple ways in which these students navigate, experience, and understand their racial status and how this status affects their educational success and social interactions.

Montgomery contextualizes students’ representations of their racial identity choices through the compounded race politics of blood quantum and stereotypes of physical features, showing how varying degrees of "Indianness" are determined by peer groups. Based on in-depth interviews with nine students who identify as mixed-race (Native American–White, Native American–Black, and Native American–Hispanic), Montgomery challenges us to scrutinize how the category of "mixed-race" bears different meanings for those who fall under it based on their outward perceptions, including their ability to "pass" as one race or another.

Identity Politics of Difference includes an arsenal of policy implications for advancing equity and social justice in tribal colleges and beyond and actively engages readers to reflect on how they have experienced the identity politics of race throughout their own lives. The book will be a valuable resource to scholars, policy makers, teachers, and school administrators, as well as to students and their families.




  • publisher
    University Press of Colorado
  • publisher place
    Denver, Colorado
  • rights
  • rights holder
    University Press of Colorado