Muskrat vs. Canary: The Future of Federal Indian Law

This Thursday @ 7PM it’ll be time to unveil the new book project (now just have to write it).

Federal Indian law is marked by dramatic confrontations between paradigms such as George Washington’s “Savage as the Wolf” policy or Felix Cohen’s “Miner’s Canary” parable. These metaphors reflect the reality that federal Indian law and policy was imposed on tribal nations. Even today, five decades after the beginning of the tribal self-determination era, the Miner’s Canary parable remains the most used metaphorical shorthand to describe Indigenous affairs in the United States, but those metaphors are no longer useful. Tribal nations now possess political and economic power. Congress and the executive branch have largely embraced tribal self-determination. The Supreme Court has not. Or has it? Tribal nations have fared better in the Supreme Court since 2014 than in any other period of American history. Even so, the Court is paradigmatically split. The Anishinaabe creation is a story about the lowly, but heroic, Muskrat as a metaphor to describe modern tribal nations. The Supreme Court is poised to either accept the new paradigm of tribal self-determination or eradicate it in favor of keeping tribal nations weak. It is a paradigmatic battle of the Muskrat versus the Canary.

Miigwetch to John Low at THE school that shall not be named on this blog for the invitation to present!