I was interviewed by Tulsa Public Radio Station KWGS last week. A short summary is here.
Nisqually Council Member Willie Frank III and Attorney and Law Professor Ann Tweedy
In honor of Indigenous Peoples Day, Nisqually Tribal Council Member Willie Frank III and I will be speaking at Seattle U. at noon on Monday on the Ongoing Invisibility of Native and Tribal Rights. More information here.
This show aired on Tuesday. Guest commentators included Deb Haaland for the first half and John Dossett and Ann Tweedy for the second half.
My review of Andrés Reséndez’s The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America is up on JOTWELL: Equality. I highly recommend the book. It’s a dense and emotionally difficult read but well worth it for the knowledge you will gain. One of the things I was struck with was that the removal of Indian children from their homes by social services agencies has its roots in hundreds of years of stealing Indian children into slavery.
In a number of recent controversies, from sports teams’ use of Indian mascots to the federal government’s desecration of sacred sites, American Indians have lodged charges of “cultural appropriation” or the unauthorized use by members of one group the cultural expressions and resources of another. While these and other incidents are currently in the headlines, American Indians often experience these claims within an historical and continuing experience of dispossession. For hundreds of years, the U.S. legal system has sanctioned the taking and destruction of Indian lands and artifacts, bodies and religions, identities and beliefs, all toward the project of conquest and colonization. Indian resources have been devalued by the law and made available for non-Indians to use of their own purposes. Seeking redresses for the losses caused by these actions, tribes have brought claims under a variety of laws, from trademark and copyright, to the First Amendment and Fifth Amendment, and some have been more successful than others. As a matter of property law, courts have compensated – albeit incompletely – the taking of certain Indian lands and has also come to recognize tribal interests in human remains, gravesites, and associated artifacts. When it comes to intangible property, however, the situation is more complicated. It is difficult for legal decision-makers and scholars alike to understand why Indian tribes should be able to regulate the use of Indian names, symbols, and expressions. Indeed, non-Indians often claim interests, sounding in free speech and the public domain, in the very same resources. To advance understanding of this contested area of law, this Article situates intangible cultural property claims in a larger history of the legal dispossession of Indian property – a phenomenon we call “Indian appropriation.” It then evaluates these claims vis à vis prevailing legal doctrine, and offers a normative view of solutions, both legal and extralegal.