American Law Institute Proposed Project on American Indian Law

Today, I will be make a presentation at the 2012 American Law Institute annual meeting (agenda here) in support of a proposed restatement or principles project on American Indian Law.

I organized a meeting on behalf of the ALI in March here in D.C. to discuss whether the ALI could effectively contribute the field (coverage of the meeting is here):

On March 29, the Institute hosted a conference on American Indian law at The Mayflower in Washington, DC, to discuss whether the ALI could produce work that would have a positive impact in the area of American Indian law. Among those attending the meeting, moderated by Professor Matthew L.M. Fletcher of Michigan State University College of Law, were government officials, judges, practitioners, and law professors with expertise in the field, including Deputy Solicitor General Edwin S. Kneedler; Arvo Mikkanen of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma; Jon M. Sands, Federal Public Defender for the District of Arizona; Judges William Cameron Canby, Jr., and William A. Fletcher of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit; Judge Diane P. Wood, U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit; Patricia Ann Millett of Akin Gump in Washington, DC; John E. Echohawk of the Native American Rights Fund; Dean Kevin K. Washburn of the University of New Mexico School of Law; and Dean Stacy L. Leeds of the University of Arkansas School of Law.


3 thoughts on “American Law Institute Proposed Project on American Indian Law

  1. Joseph Thomas Flies-Away May 22, 2012 / 10:07 am

    The term ‘American Indian Law’ (“AIL”) may be misleading to some. If I understand the idea of the meeting and idea, the Institute wishes to restate the law of the United States that is applicable to American Indian Tribes, commonly referred to as Federal Indian Law. An unknowledgeable person might assume AIL reflects a body of ‘tribal’ law that all American Indian Tribes have collectively adopted and follow (or even law applicable to American Indians as individuals). Certainly, while there are areas of anglo-American law that many Tribes have incorporated fully or in part, such as the U.C.C., etc., the legal foundations of tribal governments and peoples remain quite different, based in their own cultures and customs, and they should First be appreciated and pronounced accordingly (and by them!). I hope I understand correctly the ALI’s proposed project on AIL. jtfa

  2. Erick May 22, 2012 / 11:39 am

    This is long overdue. The circuit splits on some of the most basic principles of sovereign immunity are horrendous. A one-stop source of guiding principles on this area of the law is sorely needed.

  3. Matthew L.M. Fletcher May 22, 2012 / 2:31 pm


    Thanks for the question. I use American Indian Law like Canby does in the nutshell. As an umbrella term that covers both federal Indian law and tribal law. I do admit though that the ALI project will be mostly federal Indian law so perhaps a change down the road will be appropriate.


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