Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All

…is the title of a new book written by an editor of the Harvard Review. According the the New York Times Book Review (I haven’t read the book), it’s about both the author’s experience with modern Maoris and the historical European “discovery” and colonization of New Zealand. Here are a couple pieces from the review:

“Thompson [the author] persists with this meeting-of-alien-peoples theme as the tenuous link between the memoir part of her book, in which she is cast as a kind of explorer charting new cross-cultural territory in her relationship with a Maori (“I was small and blond, he was a 6-foot-2, 200-pound Polynesian. I had a Ph.D., he went to trade school”), and the history part (the European discovery and colonization of New Zealand). The late-20th-century pub incident, for example, segues into accounts of 18th-century encounters between Maoris and explorers like James Cook and Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne. Both of them were ultimately killed by the Polynesians they met; Thompson married hers.”

. . . .

“Although Thompson’s “contact encounter” parallels are strained, her observations about the enduring effects of colonization can be penetrating. She puts her vantage point of insider-outsider (she’s never lived in New Zealand yet has an intimate connection with it) to good effect, tracing the genealogy of racial stereotypes and cutting through some of New Zealand’s most cherished myths about itself. Like the one about how injustices of the past have been addressed, or that, unlike Australia, New Zealand is not racist. “What, after all, does the cluster of social indicators that includes low life expectancy, poor health, high unemployment and low levels of educational attainment suggest, if not poverty?” she asks. “And what is the root cause of Maori poverty, if not colonization?” Thompson now has interests on both sides of the postcolonial divide, feeling the dispossession suffered by her husband’s (hence her children’s) people as well as that perpetrated by her own. (“It was the Dakotas and Pennacooks and Pawtuckets who paid the price of our family’s prosperity.”)”

The full review is available on the New York Times website.

Conyers, Freep op-ed “No Special Deals for Tribal Casinos”

John Conyers in today’s Freep:

“I would like to add a few points concerning the upcoming vote in Congress on legalizing off-reservation casinos in Romulus and Port Huron (“Legislators, tribes divided over casinos; At issue: Romulus, Port Huron sites,” June 22):

The validity of the land claims the bills purport to “settle” is questionable. The Bay Mills Indian Community filed its claim in federal and Michigan courts, and lost in both. The Sault Ste. Marie tribe has never bothered to pursue the established legal paths available for settling such claims.

The settlements are for land hundreds of miles from the tribes’ reservations. Under the established procedures for considering permitting a tribe to build an off-reservation casino, distance from the reservation is a major factor weighing against approval, because the detriment to the tribe is more likely to outweigh any benefits.

Other important factors under the established procedure are the potential environmental problems and the potential detrimental effects on the surrounding community. The deals the bills cut for the Bay Mills and Sault Ste. Marie tribes would circumvent every part of the careful consideration that is usually required.

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Makah Rez Featured in the Seattle Times Travel Section

To read the story, see the pictures, and watch the audio/video clip (featuring narration by my cousin Janine!) go to the paper’s site here.

From the Seattle Times:

When Polly DeBari looks at Tatoosh Island, she sees the historic lighthouse, the crumpled old weather station and the crane clinging to the rocky terrain.

In her mind, she also sees the generations of Makah who once paddled out to the tiny coastal island off Cape Flattery for summer halibut and whaling seasons.

“You think about years and years ago, your parents, your great-grandparents, your ancestors were on that island,” she said. “It’s just kind of special to know you could be so close.”

In the summer, DeBari has a regular perch with a clear vantage of the island. She is a cultural interpreter for the Makah Cultural & Research Center, and spends summer days high above the sea at Cape Flattery, where the Pacific Ocean and the Strait of Juan de Fuca joust for territory.

She welcomes people to the Makah reservation and the most northwesterly point in the contiguous United States.

Malcolm Gladwell on affirmative action for law school admissions and lawyer performance (among other things)

Malcolm Gladwell gave the opening talk at the New Yorker Conference held earlier this month. His talk was primarily about the “mismatch problem” in hiring. It’s very interesting. It can be watched (no charge!) on the New Yorker’s website.

He talks about the the “combines” before the pro-sports drafts and how they are awful predictors of success; teacher hiring and how the added requirements for teachers in No Child Left Behind actually make it more difficult for schools to hire better teachers; and lawyer-hiring, which he supports by citing a study reportedly conducted by the University of Michigan Law School that compared the post-graduation performance of students admitted under affirmative action to the performance of those admitted under the non-affirmative-action standards.

The whole talk is really interesting, but it is about 30 minutes long. If you want to skip ahead to the part on lawyer-hiring and the performance of students admitted under affirmative action (those areas most relevant to what this blog is typically concerned with), you can jump to it about 3/4 of the way through. [But if you have any interest in pro sports, particularly hockey, football, or basketball, I think the first part of the talk really shouldn’t be missed.]

About the University of Michigan Law School study: He says that it shows that there is, generally, no difference between the post-grad success of those admitted under affirmative action (the “lower standard”) and those admitted under the “higher standard.” [Aside: He also characterizes UMLS’s former affirmative action program as creating a “two-tiered” admission system, where affirmative action admits faced a “dramatically lower standard.” From what I recall about the Law School’s position in Grutter, that is not how they would want their process characterized.]

I was once told, by someone who would know, that (at least at Michigan) LSAT scores are great predictors of law school GPAs. If both that statement and Gladwell’s summary of the study are accurate, that would seem to suggest that law school performance doesn’t predict post-grad performance. Which I think would be true in some cases, but not generally, particularly considering the opportunity advantage of the top performers.

Okla Supreme Ct Holds that 18 USC 1161 Waives Tribal Immunity from Suit

The question is whether Congress abrogated tribal immunity from suits for “dram shop” liability when it enacted 18 USC 1161. Plaintiffs in several states have argued that it did, relying on the statute and the Supreme Court’s opinion in Rice v. Rehner. Until yesterday, no appellate court had agreed with that argument. The appeals courts of Arizona, Texas, and Washington have all found that 1161 does not amount to Congressional abrogation of tribal immunity, and that a tribe does not waive its immunity by getting a state issued liquor license. The plaintiff in the Washington case has petitioned the State Supreme Court for review–that petition is still pending.

I think the argument fails regardless of what the state’s laws say, but what makes this even more disturbing is that Oklahoma’s “dram shop” laws don’t even provide for a 3rd party suit as a method of regulation. In some states the liquor laws specifically provide for 3rd party suits as a means of enforcement, others, including Oklahoma, do not. What the Oklahoma court found was that 1161 abrogated tribal immunity from private tort suits based on a negligence theory simply because a violation of a liquor regulation was alleged.

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Robertson Rules on “Accounting”

Today in the Cobell case, Judge Robertson issued his findings of fact and conclusions of law on the government’s “accounting.” The document is available here.

Here’s the story from Indianz.Com

Judge: Cobell historical accounting ‘impossible’
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Filed Under: Cobell

The federal judge handling the Cobell trust fund case has issued his
findings of fact and conclusions of law on the Bush administration’s
historical accounting.

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DOJ Seeks Indian Fighters

It seems that DOJ is looking to add to their group of lawyers defending the tribal trust fund mismanagement cases. The posting specifically says that the new hire will be working primarily on trust fund mismanagement cases.



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Winters Centennial Conference — Santa Anna Pueblo — June 9-12, 2008


June 9-12, 2008
Hyatt Regency Tamaya — Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico

The year 2008 marks the centennial of Winters v. United States, in which the Court formulated the reserved water rights doctrine now broadly asserted by Indian tribes and federal agencies. The decision, because of its enduring promise of justice to Native Americans, marks one of the great achievements of American jurisprudence.  The decision made possible the continuity of many Indian communities and non-Indian communities alike, along with the protection of important environmental resources. Now, one hundred years later, the question is whether the promise of Winters will be fulfilled. In celebration of the Winters Centennial, the Utton Transboundary Resources Center and the American Indian Law Center will convene a major symposium in June 2008 along the waters of the Rio Grande near Albuquerque. The symposium will review the legal and cultural history of the decision, assess the contemporary consequences of the reserved water rights doctrine (both nationally and internationally), and project the significance of Indian water rights into the 21st Century. The goal of the symposium is to assemble Indian reserved rights policy makers and decision makers at all levels in order to deepen the understanding of the effect of Winters and to advance the dialogue regarding the future role of reserved rights.