Henderson Center’s Fall 2012 Symposium, “Heeding Frickey’s Call: Doing Justice in Indian Country”



A few years before his untimely death the renowned Indian law scholar Phillip Frickey delivered a lecture at the University of Kansas citing the “failure of scholarship in federal Indian law” to “grapple with the law on the ground in Indian country” or to educate a judiciary that has little knowledge of Native culture.  In the aftermath of Professor Frickey’s critique of the abstract writing of law professors, some academics accepted his challenge and expanded their scholarship to address the problems requiring solutions in Indian country. Many of these efforts have been accomplished in partnership with tribal leaders and in response to their expressed needs.  Yet significantly more needs to be done.  In the face of increasing hostility to Indian law claims in the federal courts, it is imperative for Indian law scholars to assume some of the responsibility for educating the judiciary about Indian country.  Moreover, as courthouse doors are closing, it is necessary for tribes, their counsel, and Indian law scholars to expand their audiences and to search for remedies beyond the courts.

This symposium will highlight the challenges facing tribal communities today and ways in which Indian law scholarship has contributed to tackling the issues “on the ground in Indian country.” While recognizing the success stories, the participants will also be encouraged to redouble their efforts, to stretch themselves beyond their usual comfort zones, and to raise the bar for the academy.

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