Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in History




College of Humanities & Social Sciences


William Carrigan, Ph.D.

Committee Member 1

Janet Moore Lindman, Ph.D.

Committee Member 2

Chanelle Rose, Ph.D.


Lenape, Nanticoke


Indians of North America--Middle Atlantic States; New Jersey--History


Civil Rights and Discrimination | History | Indigenous Studies | Native American Studies


The purpose of this thesis was to study the lawsuit case of the of Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation V. John J. Hoffman and to showcase how modern-day racism ultimately led to their federal lawsuit in 2015. Racism and racist biases over Indian gaming has affected not just the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape tribe, but tribes all over the country and has severely hindered tribes in the state and federal acknowledgment process. There are also other tribes that have had lawsuits over racial biases of Indian gaming, which will be discussed within the thesis. By using oral histories from tribal members and allies involved in the lawsuit, this thesis uncovers how these racial biases caused an almost forty-year battle with the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape tribe and the State of New Jersey. This thesis also addresses the discussion of Native American sovereignty and the debate that has surrounded that term for centuries. As many Indigenous people view the word and definition of sovereignty very differently than non-Indigenous people, this discussion is important in this lawsuit because it brings up the issue if a body of government can give rights to a nation that were already inherently there. The modern-day racism on tribal nations, as this thesis will discussed, showed that the battle for equality and inclusion is far from over.