New Book: “The Cherokee Supreme Court 1823–1835”

From Carolina Academic Press, here (h/t Legal History Blog):

The Cherokee Supreme Court


by J. Matthew Martin

Forthcoming April 2020 • paper

ISBN 978-1-5310-1841-2
e-ISBN 978-1-5310-1842-9

Tags: Indian and Indigenous Peoples LawLegal HistoryRegional Interest

The first legal history of the first tribal court upends long-held misconceptions about the origins of Westernized tribal jurisprudence. This book demonstrates how the Cherokee people—prior to their removal on the Trail of Tears—used their judicial system as an external exemplar of American legal values, while simultaneously deploying it as a bulwark for tribal culture and tradition in the face of massive societal pressure and change. Extensive case studies document the Cherokee Nation’s exercise of both criminal and civil jurisdiction over American citizens, the roles of women and language in the Supreme Court, and how the courts were used to regulate the slave trade among the Cherokees. Although long-known for its historical value, the legal significance of the Cherokee Supreme Court has not been explored until now

American Indian Children and the Law: Cases and Materials out this Summer

The casebook that had to be rewritten twice in the past four years is finally being published. It should be available in a few weeks, along with a teacher’s manual. If you are interested in a review copy, let me know or request a review copy here. I posted the Table of Contents today.


Carolina Academic Press Book Announcement — Graham & Van Zyl-Chavarro: “Education, Media, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”


Education, Media, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Lorie M. Graham & Amy Van Zyl-Chavarro

Education and media are important societal tools for sustaining and transmitting cultures. Yet for Indigenous Peoples, just the opposite has been true for much of modern history.  They have been used to silence indigenous voices, support forced assimilation, and perpetuate inequalities and marginalization. This book examines the three articles of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples aimed at countering these injustices: Article 14 on the right to education, Article 15 on the right to non-discrimination and accuracy in public information, and Article 16 on the right to media.  It explores the intrinsic and instrumental value these international norms hold for self-determining indigenous polities, and how additional domestic laws and policies can lead to their robust implementation.

New on the Turtle Talk Bookshelf: Frank Pommersheim’s Tribal Justice



“Frank Pommersheim is the modern apotheosis of Ksa, Nanaboozhoo, Quetzalcotl, Athena, John Marshall, and the Buddha—all legends of judicial wisdom. Tribal Justice is a powerful culmination of his career work so far, and gives us all hope for another quarter century of his judgment, experience, and calm thoughtfulness. As the Buddha (probably) said, Pommersheim ponders from the stars and judges from the sky, yet speaks from the heart and writes for the land.” — Matthew Fletcher, Professor of Law, Michigan State University College of Law

“Every Tribal Judge should read this book. Written from the perspective of an able and seasoned Tribal Appellate Justice, it shares judicial perspective that is unique to members of the Tribal Judiciary. Justice is sacred. Native Justice is rooted in a world view that is starkly different than that of dominant society. We serve in Tribal communities but must deal with misguided federal law. This writing gives us guidance. Miigwetch, Frank!” — Michael Petoskey, Chief Judge, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi

“Professor Pommersheim’s new book […] is a soul-searching and compelling look at the importance of tribal courts of appeals in the development of a body of tribal law that is responsive both to the needs of tribal citizens, who adhere to traditional notions of justice, and the non-Indian community, with well-reasoned court decisions that lay out clear parameters for law and order in tribal communities. By examining individual cases from several different tribal communities, one of which was examined by the US Supreme Court and one which is about to be critiqued, Professor Pommersheim demonstrates himself to be an indispensable player in the advancement of tribal justice in numerous communities. Having been involved in some of the cases chronicled in the book, and having served with Professor Pommersheim on appellate courts for approximately 18 years, I have seen first-hand Professor Pommersheim’s commitment to ensuring that tribal appellate courts serve the needs of all litigants in tribal courts.” — BJ Jones, Chief Judge Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribal Court; Director Tribal Judicial Institute, University of North Dakota School of Law

“Only a poet could so seamlessly intertwine memoir, practical how-to, and grand vision in one remarkable book about law and life in Indian country. Tribal Justice is deeply compelling, taking the reader on a more than quarter-of-a-century ride through an extraordinary career devoted to tribal law and the people from which it springs.” — Angela Riley, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law

“Professor and Justice Frank Pommersheim has once again written an inspiring book […] to be read and reread. His current writing and appellate opinions provide an essential guide to understanding tribal courts, specifically appellate courts. Justice Pommersheim’s book is a must read by all legal and judicial practioners and tribal, federal and state leaders to understand the importance of the Tribal judiciary in protecting and enhancing the sovereignty of tribal nations. Respectfully, he shares his life with Indian people in a most graceful, intellectual, and poetic manner and emphasizes that justice, freedom and equality is for all.” — Cheryl Demmert Fairbanks (Tlingit-Tsimpshian), Esq., Justice for the Inter-Tribal Court of Appeals for Nevada and White Earth Nation; Visiting Professor of Law, University of New Mexico’s Southwestern Indian Law Clinic

New Book: “Our Cause Will Ultimately Triumph”

“Our Cause Will Ultimately Triumph”:Profiles in American Indian Sovereignty, edited by Tim Alan Garrison, has just been published by Carolina Academic Press.Our Cause Will Utimately Triumph

Here is the blurb:

“Our Cause Will Ultimately Triumph” examines the history of American Indian tribal sovereignty from a peoples’ perspective. An impressive group of historians and legal scholars offer up engaging biographies of the courageous leaders who helped establish and protect the autonomy of their people. Subjects range from early nineteenth-century leaders such as Alexander McGillivray (Creek) and John Ross (Cherokee), chiefs who helped bring their nations into the modern age of tribal sovereignty, to Ada Deer, Mary and Carrie Dann, and Elouise Cobell, women who worked for the benefit of all Indian people.

MSU ILPC alum Adrea Korthase wrote the chapter on Michigan tribal judge Michael Petoskey.

Book Announcement: “Mastering American Indian Law” by Dean Leeds and Professor EagleWoman

From Carolina Academic Press comes Mastering American Indian Law by Angelique Townsend EagleWoman and Stacy L. Leeds.

The description:

Mastering American Indian Law is a text designed to provide readers with an overview of the field.  By framing the important eras of U.S. Indian policy in the Introductory Chapter, the text flows through historical up to contemporary developments in American Indian Law.  This book will serve as a useful supplement to classroom instruction covering tribal law, federal Indian law and tribal-state relations.  In ten chapters, the book has full discussions of a wide range of topics, such as: Chapter 2 – American Indian Property Law; Chapter 3 – Criminal Jurisdiction in Indian Country; Chapter 4 – Tribal Government, Civil Jurisdiction and Regulation; Chapter 8 – Tribal-State Relations; and Chapter 9 – Sacred Sites and Cultural Property Protection. Throughout the text, explanations of the relevant interaction between tribal governments, the federal government and state governments are included in the various subject areas.  In Chapter 10 – International Indigenous Issues and Tribal Nations, the significant evolution of collective rights in international documents is focused upon as these documents may be relevant for tribal governments in relations with the United States.  For Indian law courses, law school seminars on topics in American Indian Law, undergraduate and graduate level American Indian Studies classes, and those interested in the field, this book will provide an easy-to-read text meant to guide the reader through the historical to the contemporary on the major aspects of American Indian law and policy.

A draft of chapter three, Criminal Jurisdiction in Indian Country, is available on SSRN.

New Book: “Captured Justice: Native Nations and Public Law 280” by Duane Champagne and Carole Goldberg


Captured Justice: Native Nations and Public Law 280

by Duane ChampagneCarole Goldberg

2012 • $30.00 • 244 pp • paper • ISBN: 978-1-61163-043-5 •LCCN 2011034877

The policy of forced assimilation, called “termination,” that Congress pressed upon Native Americans in the 1950s brought state criminal jurisdiction to more than half of all Indian reservations for the first time in American history. The law that accomplished most of this shift from a combination of tribal and federal control to state control is widely known as Public Law 280. Tribes did not consent to the new and alien forms of criminal justice, and the federal government provided no funding to state or local governments to ease the new burdens thrust upon them.

Present-day concerns about community safety in Indian country raise questions about the appropriate strategy for achieving that end. Is expanded state criminal jurisdiction an appropriate response, or should that option be off the table? Does the experience with Public Law 280 suggest conditions under which state jurisdiction is more or less successful?

Captured Justice is the first systematic investigation of the success or failure of the Public Law 280 program substituting state for tribal and federal criminal justice in Indian country. The authors first identify a set of six conditions that are necessary for criminal justice to succeed in Indian country. They then present the results of hundreds of interviews and surveys at sixteen reservations across the United States, tapping reservation residents, tribal officials and staff, and state and federal law enforcement officers and criminal justice personnel, to find out how the state jurisdiction regime is faring and to compare experiences on Public Law 280 reservations with those on non-Public Law 280 reservations. Before-and-after case studies of tribes that were able to remove state jurisdiction from their reservations complete the book.

Captured Justice is both an important assessment of an historic federal Indian policy that remains with us today, and a guide to future criminal justice policy for Indian country.

New Book by Steve Russell — “Sequoyah Rising”

Sequoyah Rising book jacket

Sequoyah Rising

Problems in Post-Colonial Tribal Governance

by Steve Russell

Here is the  blurb from Carolina Academic Press:

Since 1789, the United States has had an “Indian problem.” Since 1492, the Indians have had a colonial problem. It’s the same problem.

Continue reading

Forthcoming Book on ICWA by Barbara Atwood

Barbara Atwood, a prominent commentator on the Indian Child Welfare Act, soon will be publishing her book, “Children, Tribes, and States: Adoption and Custody Conflicts over American Indian Children” with Carolina Academic Press. She has posted the first chapter of the book on SSRN.

Here is the abstract:

This Introduction to Children, Tribes, and States: Adoption and Custody Conflicts over American Indian Children (Carolina Academic Press forthcoming 2010) provides an overview of the book but begins with the story of my representation of a Northern Cheyenne woman in a child custody dispute two decades ago – a professional experience that fueled my longstanding interest in child welfare and custody law affecting American Indian and Alaska Native children. The book examines the policies driving the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 against the backdrop of current ICWA controversies in state courts. In addition, it explores tribal-state competition in inter-parental custody disputes involving Indian children, a contentious arena that falls outside the purview of ICWA and implicates federal, state, and tribal jurisdictional premises. The book emphasizes the emotional and political costs of jurisdictional battles in both ICWA and non-ICWA cases. I propose jurisdictional guidelines for state and tribal courts that build on respect for one another’s legitimacy and competence. At the same time, I develop analytical frameworks to address Native children’s individualized identities, perspectives, and needs.