Fletcher on Pandemics and the Making of a Tribal State

My draft paper, “Pandemics in Indian Country: The Making of the Tribal State,” part of a symposium on John Fabian Witt’s American Contagions book hosted by the St. Thomas Law Journal, is available on SSRN.

The abstract:

This Essay is inspired by the fascinating narrative told by John Fabian Witt theorizing how epidemics make states and how states can also make epidemics. The two stories centered in Peshawbestown, Michigan of the 1881 smallpox outbreak and the 2020-2021 COVID-19 pandemic seems to play into that story. The state (acting through the local and federal government) made the 1881 outbreak fatal, while the epidemic (acting through the tribal and federal government) made the state (in this case, the tribe) in 2020-2021. The story here seems to be one of sovereignty. In the smallpox era, the tribes exercised almost no sovereignty. Now they are practically self-governing; the incredible success of the Grand Traverse Band is a ringing endorsement. The tribe is acting like a capable and responsive government. But I argue there is more going on here. Sovereignty – whether liberal or authoritarian, in Witt’s words – is the first step in the analysis, but not the last. Culture is the second step.
This Essay intends to gently disrupt Professor Witt’s theory by superimposing Anishinaabe political theory on American Contagions. The very notion of sovereignty is foreign to Anishinaabe. Western political theory insists on the power of a sovereign entity to enforce a social contract or else society will collapse. Anishinaabe political theory does not. The difference matters.

Leelanau Ticker: David Arroyo, Grand Traverse Band’s New Chairman Shares His Vision

On August 14, the Suttons Bay resident was sworn in as the new chairman of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (GTB), following an election process that was delayed months due to COVID-19. Arroyo, who has served as a member of the seven-seat GTB Tribal Council since 2004, is taking on leadership of the tribe just as it enters its fifth decade as a federally recognized sovereign nation. The Leelanau Ticker caught up with Arroyo to learn about his first two months in office, his goals for the future, and more.

Full article here.

Record Eagle: Watershed moment for FishPass

TRAVERSE CITY — Construction for FishPass hasn’t started just yet, but Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians and other project partners celebrated the project’s start.

Saturday’s event kicked off with Peshawbestown Community Drum performing, and a water ceremony by JoAnne Cook, Tina Frankenberger and Melissa Wiatrolik. The three women, each donning colorful skirts, prayed as they held copper vessels filled with water, then sang a song expressing thanks to the water.

Article here.

Enbridge Line 5: Michigan Public Service Commission Litigation

See below for 1) Applicant Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership’s Limited Objections to the Notice of Intervention of the Attorney General; (2) Applicant Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership’s Limited Objections to the Petitions to Intervene Filed by The Bay Mills Indian Community, The Grand Traverse Band Of Ottawa And Chippewa Indians, Little Traverse Bay Bands Of Odawa Indians, and Notttawaseppi Huron Band Of The Pottawatomi; (3) Applicant Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership’s Objections to the Petitions to Intervene Filed by The Michigan Environmental Council, Tip Of The Mitt Watershed Council, The National Wildlife Federation, For Love Of Water, The Environmental Law & Policy Center, And Michigan Climate Action Network and Certificate of Service.

A pre-hearing was scheduled Wednesday August 12, 2020 at 1:00PM. Petitions to intervene from Bay Mills Indian Community, Grand Traverse Band, Little Traverse Bay Bands, and Nottawaseppi Huron Band below. In addition, the Attorney General is now intervening in the proceedings and Enbridge has asked for a rehearing which is also below.

Other Line 5 posts here.