Case #2021.0

Negotiating from the Margins: The Santa Clara Pueblo Seeks Key Ancestral Lands

Publication Date: May 22, 2014
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This negotiations case describes the approach, over time, of Santa Clara, a small Pueblo Indian tribe in New Mexico, to recover a piece of land tribal leaders viewed as integral to their ancestral homeland. Unlike many negotiations cases, which concern the strategizing of two or more powerful players, this case describes the evolving strategy of a small, marginal player, striving mightily for a seat at a negotiating table dominated by several powerful interests. Initially taking a rights-based line of attack, the Santa Clara Pueblo eventually adopted a more strategic approach, seeking to understand the perspective of the U.S. Forest Service, the New Mexico Congressional delegation, and other important stakeholders, and to frame its arguments in a way the agency representatives and politicians would find most compelling. The case ends partway through the final, detailed negotiation between Santa Clara and the U.S. Forest Service, when a tense standoff arose. At this juncture, Santa Clara faced a difficult choice--whether to accept a partial win, to walk away, or to fight for more and perhaps risk losing all. A brief sequel describes what Santa Clara did, what the U.S. Forest Service did, and the resolution ultimately embraced by both sides.

Learning Objective:
The case can be used to teach several lessons about negotiation--how to trade on differences to create value, overcome a status and power imbalance, build a multi-party coalition, and balance the demands of internal vs. external negotiations. In particular, case analysis shows the advantages of understanding one's adversary, especially in framing an argument. It also shows how to dig beneath an apparent zero-sum conflict to find a solution that gives both parties what they most want and need. 

Please note: two videos (History and The Land) will be available to students before class. The remaining three videos (Mapping a Strategy l, Mapping a Strategy ll, and Fire, Recovery and P'opii Khanu) are included in the teaching plan, and are intended for instructors to use in class. Here is more information on how to access teaching plans

Other Details

Teaching Plan:
Available with Educator Access
Material Included:
Case and Video Supplements
Case Author:
Pamela Varley
Video Producer:
Patricia Garcia-Rios
Faculty Lead:
Kessely Hong
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States