John Stuart Mill, a Western philosopher of the Enlightenment period, argues that paternalism is an infringement on an individual’s autonomy. Although Mill argues as such, Western powers have been observed to exercise paternalism by way of imperialist policies and practices throughout history. In my thesis, I will argue that there is a paradoxical tension between a Western desire for anti-paternalism domestically alongside a justification for paternalism abroad. I will utilize a literature review to further support my argument. I will present a case study on the Lakota Indians in the Sioux Nation and the policies the United States federal government passed to restrict the cultural autonomy of these peoples. I argue that the federal government infringed on the autonomy of Lakota Indians by forced cultural assimilation and that such assimilation served a purpose to imperialize rather than to guide. I will delve into the implications of whether or not the federal government’s forced cultural assimilation of the Lakota Indians can be justified by Mill’s defense of British imperialism in India. My case study of the Lakota Indians will provide us with a way to view a loss of legal status of Indians from a loss of autonomy and the ramifications that has had on the Indian community. By considering the legal status of the Indian peoples, we are forced to acknowledge our current legal system and the ways in which such a system still acts to prevent Indian tribes from gaining full autonomy.