Administrative Law Review Podcast on the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s Federal Recognition Struggle


On today’s episode of A Hard Look, a Junior Staffer on ALR, Olivia Miller, joins host, Sarah Knarzer, and Professor Matthew Fletcher to discuss the tribal recognition process and the barriers it poses to tribes across the United States, and in particular the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe. Earlier this year, and in the middle of a surging coronavirus pandemic, the Bureau of Indian Affairs announced its intention to revoke the Mashpee Wampanoag’s land from its federal trust. This action is only a continuation of the Mashpee Wampanoag’s four hundred year struggle for tribal survival, dating back to the origins of the Thanksgiving myth.

Olivia and Professor Fletcher discuss Olivia’s comment, which she wrote as part of ALR’s comment writing process, to identify why the tribal recognition process is such a difficult, expensive, and frustrating administrative process for tribes who want and need to be federally recognized.

Trevor Reed on Fair Use and Cultural Appropriation of Indigenous IP

Trevor Reed has posted “Fair Use as Cultural Appropriation,” forthcoming in the California Law Review, on SSRN.

Here is the abstract:

Over the last four decades, scholars from diverse disciplines have documented a wide variety of cultural appropriations from Indigenous peoples and the harms these inflict. And yet, there are currently no federal laws other than copyright that limit the appropriation of song, dance, oral history, and other forms of intangible culture. Copyright is admittedly an imperfect fit for combatting cultural appropriations – it is a porous form of protection, allowing some publicly beneficial uses of protected works  without the consent of the copyright owner under certain exceptions, foremost being copyright’s fair use doctrine. This article evaluates fair use as a gate-keeping mechanism for unauthorized uses of culture. As codified in the 1976 Copyright Revision Act, the fair use doctrine’s four-part test is supposed to help fact finders determine whether an unauthorized use of another’s work is reasonable in light of copyright’s goals of promoting  cultural production. But, while the fair use test has evolved to address questions about the purpose behind an appropriation, the amount and substance of the work used, and the effects of the appropriation on the market for the work, the vital inquiry about the “nature” of the original work and the impact of unauthorized appropriation on its creative environment has been all but forgotten by lower federal courts. Combining doctrinal analysis, settler-colonial theory, and ethnographic fieldwork involving ongoing appropriations of copyrightable Indigenous culture, this article shows how this “forgotten factor” in the fair use analysis is key to assessing the real impacts unauthorized appropriations have on culturally diverse forms of creativity. Thus, if we are committed to the development of creativity in all of its varieties and natures, a rehabilitation of the forgotten factor is both urgent and necessary.

Looks like important reading to me.

Michael Doran on the Equal Protection Challenge to Indian Law

Michael Doran has posted “The Equal-Protection Challenge to Federal Indian Law,” forthcoming in the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Law & Public Affairs, on SSRN.

Here is the abstract:

This article addresses a significant challenge to federal Indian law currently emerging in the federal courts. In 2013, the Supreme Court suggested that the Indian Child Welfare Act may be unconstitutional, and litigation on that question is now pending in the Fifth Circuit. The theory underlying the attack is that the statute distinguishes between Indians and non-Indians and thus uses the suspect classification of race, triggering strict scrutiny under the equal-protection component of the Due Process Clause. If the challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act succeeds, the entirety of federal Indian law, which makes hundreds or even thousands of distinctions based on Indian descent, may be unconstitutional. This article defends the constitutionality of federal Indian law with a novel argument grounded in existing Supreme Court case law. Specifically, this article shows that the congressional plenary power over Indians and Indian tribes, which the Supreme Court has recognized for nearly a century and a half and which inevitably requires Congress to make classifications involving Indians and Indian tribes, compels the application of a rational-basis standard of review to federal Indian law.

New Indian Law Scholarship Posted on SSRN


Scaling Commercial Law in Indian Country

Texas A&M Law Review, Forthcoming
Number of pages: 38 Posted: 21 Sep 2020
Working Paper Series
Southern University Law Center

McGirt v. Oklahoma and the Past, Present, and Future of Reservation Boundaries

University of Pennsylvania Law Review Online, 2020
Number of pages: 45 Posted: 22 Sep 2020 Last Revised: 06 Oct 2020
Accepted Paper Series
University of Connecticut School of Law

Disparate Defense in Tribal Courts: The Unequal Right to Counsel as a Barrier to Expansion of Tribal Court Criminal Jurisdiction

Forthcoming in 106 Cornell Law Review (November 2020)
Number of pages: 29 Posted: 25 Sep 2020
Accepted Paper Series

The Canadian Indian Free Passage Right: An Anomaly in U.S. Immigration Law

The Federal Lawyer (May/June 2020)
Number of pages: 2 Posted: 02 Oct 2020
Accepted Paper Series
Navajo Nation Department of Justice

Tribes, Nations, States: Our Three Commerce Powers

Number of pages: 48 Posted: 12 Oct 2020
Working Paper Series
University of Mississippi – School of Law

Indiana’s Indian Laws: Indigenous Erasure and Racism in the Land of the Indians

Number of pages: 28 Posted: 21 Oct 2020
Working Paper Series
University of Tulsa College of Law

Alex Skibine on the Tribal Right to Exclude Nonmembers

Alexander Tallchief Skibine has posted “The Tribal Right to Exclude Non-Tribal Members from Indian-Owned Lands,” forthcoming from the American Indian Law Review, on SSRN.

Here is the abstract:

In 1981, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Montana v. United States, severely restricting the ability of Indian Tribes to assume civil regulatory and adjudicatory jurisdiction over non-tribal members for activities taking place on non-Indian lands within Indian reservations. The Court in Montana stated that “it could readily agree” with the Court of Appeals’ holding that the tribe could regulate the conduct of non-member on tribal lands. Yet, twenty years later, the Court issued its opinion in Nevada v. Hicks holding that in certain circumstances, the jurisdiction of Indian tribes could also be limited even if the activities of the non-members took place on Indian-owned lands.

It has been almost twenty years since Hicks and because of the cryptic and fractured nature of that decision, the federal circuits are divided and still trying to figure out under what circumstances tribal civil jurisdiction over non-members should be restricted when these activities take place on Indian-owned lands.

In this Article, I argue that among all the possible interpretations of Hicks, the one adopted by the Ninth Circuit makes the most sense. Under that interpretation, the so-called Montana framework used to divest tribes of jurisdiction is not applicable to cases where a tribe has retained the right to exclude. I argue that Hicks can be reasonably conceptualized as endorsing the 9th Circuit methodology. However, I also argue that Hicks should have been decided as a state jurisdiction cases and not a tribal divestiture of inherent sovereignty case. Re-imagining Hicks as a state jurisdiction case would not have changed the outcome but would have avoided the last twenty years of confusion surrounding how Hicks should be interpreted.

Highly recommended!

Stanford Law Review Online Student Essay Competition

The Stanford Law Review Online is excited to announce our student essay competition! 

Two winners will each receive a $500 prize and publication of their up to 5,000 word essay. We encourage submissions from all current students (including LLMs) and recent graduates of any ABA-accredited American law school. We especially encourage submissions from those who have not yet published academic works.


Our theme this year is the ulterior or unintended effects of legal decisions. The law and those who practice it wield considerable power over the lives of the average person. It would be comforting to believe that those who make and interpret laws act with deliberate and benevolent purpose. But that is not always the case. Occasionally, perhaps even often, legal decisions have unintended or ulterior consequences. Sometimes those consequences can be humorous, such as a resident flaunting a Homeowner’s Association rule about paint color by plastering gaudy wallpaper on the outside of her home. Other times, those consequences can be much more tragic, as with exclusionary zoning laws that ensure an absence of affordable housing in affluent areas, exacerbating existing inequities and contributing to evictions and homelessness.

The Stanford Law Review invites current law students and recent alumni of any law school to discuss a legal instrument–including a contract clause, a court judgment, or a federal regulation–that had an unexpected or ulterior effect. We welcome submissions that apply this prompt to policing, the topic of SLR’s forthcoming symposium in coordination with Stanford BLSA.


Our competition is open to current law students, LLMs, and graduates of the classes of 2020, 2019, and 2018 from ABA-accredited American law schools. Submissions are limited to one essay of up to 5,000 words (inclusive of footnotes) per person.

Submissions must be unpublished and exclusively submitted to this competition during the competition window, lasting from date of submission to date of final publication decision.

We will begin accepting pieces immediately and will close the submission window on January 4, 2021 at 11:59 PM. We aim to notify all applicants of publication decisions by January 18, 2021.

Please submit your essay as a Word document attachment in an email to Carly Grimes at This word document must be blinded. Your name must not appear in the document and you must follow instructions for removing identifying metadata available here: 

Direct any questions about the competition to Carly Grimes, 

Katherine Florey on Regulatory Sovereignty in the Pandemic

Katherine Florey has posted “Toward Tribal Regulatory Sovereignty in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” forthcoming in the Arizona Law Review. Here is the abstract:

The media has often highlighted the devastating toll COVID-19 has taken in many parts of Indian country – and that, to be sure, is part of the story. But there are other aspects of the picture as well. On the one hand, tribes have taken resourceful and creative measures to combat COVID-19. On the other, a troublesome doctrinal landscape has complicated their efforts to do so. The judicially crafted Montana framework severely restricts tribal civil regulatory power over nonmembers – a particular problem during the COVID-19 pandemic, when nonmembers have defied tribal curfews, camped in prohibited areas, and opened businesses on reservations despite closure orders. While Montana nominally contains a “health and welfare” exception allowing tribes to exercise power over nonmembers in emergencies, its contours are too ambiguous and fact-specific to allow tribes to act with the certainty and speed they require. The pandemic thus provides a vivid illustration of the way in which Montana hinders effective tribal governance. Further, the pandemic has occurred at a moment when the Court may be more receptive than it has been in the past to arguments favoring tribal sovereignty – and at a time when many of the concerns about tribal regulation that motivated the Court four decades ago in Montana seem increasingly distant both from current doctrine and contemporary tribal realities. As a result, it is time, at a minimum, for the Court to expand Montana’s “health and welfare” exception to resemble something closer to the powers states possess to safeguard public health.

Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society Call for Papers: “Confronting Violence against Indigenous Women, Children, and Peoples”



Proposals should be submitted to Lorenzo Gudino at and Jennifer Acevedo at no later than October 23, 2020.  Submissions may be published and unpublished works. The Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society will likely publish accepted unpublished submissions. Authors of accepted submissions must virtually attend and present their work at the symposium on February 6, 2021. The organizers will communicate their decisions no later than November 15, 2020.