New Student Scholarship on Indian Country Abortion Access

Heidi L. Guzmán has published “Roe on the Rez: The Case for Expanding Abortion Access on Tribal Land” in the Columbia Journal of Race and Law.

Here is the abstract:

While the courts have codified and reaffirmed the right to abortion, some state legislatures have enacted increasingly burdensome restrictions on abortion. In a number of states, there is only one abortion clinic available for thousands of people. This Note explores whether Native American tribes, as sovereigns, may establish holistic reproductive health clinics on tribal land. It analyzes abortion law in Wisconsin under the framework of Public Law 280 jurisprudence to determine that clinics in Indian Country would not be subject to state abortion regulations. This Note also explores the practical implications of a Native-owned-and-operated clinic, and concludes that these clinics would greatly increase access to safe reproductive health care for Native and non-Native people.

Alex Skibine on the Last 30 Years of Indian Law

Alexander Tallchief Skibine has published “The Supreme Court’s Last 30 Years of Federal Indian Law: Looking or Equilibrium or Supremacy?” In the Columbia Journal of Race and the Law.

Here is the abstract:

For 187 years, Indian nations status in the United States has not been fully developed or consistently approached within the law. They are viewed as Domestic Dependent Nations located within the geographical boundaries of the United States. Although Chief Justice John Marshall acknowledged that Indian nations had a certain amount of sovereignty, the exact extent of such sovereignty as well as the place of tribes within the federal system has remained ill- defined. This Article examines what has been the role of the Supreme Court in integrating Indian nations as the third Sovereign within our federalist system. The Article accomplishes this task by examining the Court’s Indian law record in the last 30 years. The comprehensive survey of Indian law decisions indicates that while the tribal win-loss record at the Supreme Court is improving, the Court has had difficulties upholding the federal policy of respecting tribal sovereignty and encouraging tribal self-government.

After categorizing the cases between victories and losses, the Article divides the cases into categories for analytical purposes. The Second half of the Article focuses on the interaction between the Court and Congress concerning the incorporation of tribes as the third sovereign within the federalist system, and ends by arguing that through its disproportionate use of federal common law in its Indian law decisions, the Court has not attempted to reach a consensus with Congress about the place of Indian nations within our federalism.

New Scholarship on the Cherokee Freedmen Controversy

Lolita Buckner Inniss has published “Cherokee Freedmen and the Color of Belonging” in the Columbia Journal of Race and Law. PDF

The abstract:

This Article addresses the Cherokee Nation and its historic conflict with the descendants of its former black slaves, designated Cherokee Freedmen. This Article specifically addresses how historic discussions of black, red, and white skin colors, designating the African-ancestored, aboriginal (Native American), and European ancestored people of the United States, have helped to shape the contours of color-based national belonging among the Cherokee. The Cherokee past practice of black slavery and the past and continuing use of skin color-coded belonging not only undermines the coherence of Cherokee sovereignty, identity, and belonging but also problematizes the notion of an explicitly aboriginal way of life by bridging red and white cultural difference over a point of legal and ethical contention: black inequality.

New Scholarship on Tribal Constitutional Amendment and Reform

Jason Hipp has published “Rethinking Rewriting: Tribal Constitutional Amendment and Reform,” in the Columbia Journal of Race and Law. This paper won the 12th Annual NNALSA Indian Law Writing Competition. Here is the abstract:

This Essay examines the recent wave of American Indian tribal constitutional change through the framework of subnational constitutional theory. When tribes rewrite their constitutions, they not only address internal tribal questions and communicate tribal values, but also engage with other subnational entities, i.e. states, and the federal government. This Essay applies that framework to a study of tribal constitutional amendment and reform procedures. Focusing on the processes of constitutional change produces insight into tribes’ status as “domestic dependent sovereigns” in the contemporary era of self-determination, a status reflected in the opportunities, and limitations, inherent in tribal constitutions. In so doing, this Essay aims to highlight an aspect of tribal constitution writing that enables successful reform and communicates the significance and goals of constitutionalism within the tribal context.

Columbia NALSA Announces National NALSA Writing Competition

The Columbia Law Native American Law Students Association is proud to present the 12th Annual
Indian Law Writing Competition

The purpose of the competition is to recognize excellence in legal research and writing related to Indian law, actively encourage the development of writing skills of NNALSA members, and enhance substantive knowledge in the fields of Federal Indian Law, Tribal Law and traditional forms of governance. The competition is open to matriculated law students at any point in their law school career and regardless of race or tribal membership status. Eligible topics are Federal Indian law and policy, Tribal law and policy, International law and policy concerning indigenous peoples, and Comparative Law (i.e intertribal or government-to-government studies). Existing work is welcomed.

• First Prize – $1000.00 – Sponsored by Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Endreson & Perry, LLP
& Publication in the Columbia Journal of Race and Law.
• Second Prize – $500.00 – Sponsored by SNR Denton US LLP
• Third Prize – $250.00 – Sponsored by Shanker & Kewenvoyouma, PLLC
• The Federal Bar Association has donated registrations for each awardee to the 38th Annual Indian Law Conference. (Awardees are responsible for their own travel and lodging costs.)

All awardees will be recognized at the National NALSA yearly conference.

Submission Deadline: 5:00 pm EST, Friday January 18, 2013.
All submissions must be electronically submitted to
Visit the NNALSA Web Site at for official rules and submission form.