Fletcher & Singel on the Historical Basis for the Trust Relationship between the US and Indian Children

Fletcher & Singel have posted “Indian Children and the Federal Tribal Trust Relationship” on SSRN.

Here is the abstract:

This article develops the history of the role of Indian children in the formation of the federal-tribal trust relationship and comes as constitutional challenges to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) are now pending. We conclude the historical record demonstrates the core of the federal-tribal trust relationship is the welfare of Indian children and their relationship to Indian nations. The challenges to ICWA are based on legally and historically false assumptions about federal and state powers in relation to Indian children and the federal government’s trust relationship with Indian children.

Indian children have been a focus of federal Indian affairs at least since the Framing of the Constitution. The Founding Generation initially used Indian children as military and diplomatic pawns, and later undertook a duty of protection to Indian nations and, especially, Indian children. Dozens of Indian treaties memorialize and implement the federal government’s duty to Indian children. Sadly, the United States then catastrophically distorted that duty of protection by deviating from its constitution-based obligations well into the 20th century. It was during this Coercive Period that federal Indian law and policy largely became unmoored from the constitution.

The modern duty of protection, now characterized as a federal general trust relationship, is manifested in federal statutes such as ICWA and various self-determination acts that return self-governance to tribes and acknowledge the United States’ duty of protection to Indian children. The federal duty of protection of internal tribal sovereignty, which has been strongly linked to the welfare of Indian children since the Founding, is now as closely realized as it ever has been throughout American history. In the Self-Determination Era, modern federal laws, including ICWA, constitute a return of federal Indian law and policy to constitutional fidelity.

UNM Symposium on United States v. Sandoval

Here is the notice:

UNM symposium on United States v Sandoval

The description:

On October 20, 1913, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in United States v. Sandoval, a case that addressed whether Congress could prohibit the introduction of intoxicating liquor into Santa Clara Pueblo lands notwithstanding the admission of New Mexico to statehood. The Court validated Congress’s power by virtue of the “Indian” status of the Pueblo people and their homelands, establishing an immensely important precedent asserting broad federal authority in Indian affairs generally. This symposium highlights three themes tied to Sandoval ’s legacy: Federal Authority in Indian Country, Indian Identity and Status, and the Rights of Defendants in Tribal Court. An additional related theme, Liquor in Indian Country, will be explored in the associated conference for tribal public defenders and Indian law clinicians, which will interweave with the symposium. This symposium is the third in a series of anniversary symposia commemorating landmark Indian law cases and legislation.

Kate Fort: “The Vanishing Indian Returns: Tribes, Popular Originalism, and the Supreme Court”

Our own Kathryn E. Fort has posted her paper, “The Vanishing Indian Returns: Tribes, Popular Originalism, and the Supreme Court,” on SSRN. It was published in the St. Louis Law Journal.

Here is the abstract:

As the nation faces cultural divides over the meaning of the “Founding,” the Constitution, and who owns these meanings, the Court’s embrace of originalism is one strand that feeds the divide. The Court’s valuing of the original interpretation of the Constitution has reinforced the Founder fetishism also found in popular culture, specifically within the politics of those identified as the Tea Party. As addressed elsewhere, their strict worship of the Founders has historical implications for both women and African Americans, groups both marginalized and viewed as property in the Constitution. No one, however, has written about how the Court’s cobbled historical narrative and their veneration for the Founders have affected American Indian tribes. Tribes  barely exist in the Constitution, and the Founders’ “original” understanding of tribes was that they would inevitably disappear.

The “vanishing Indian” stereotype, promulgated in the early Republic, and reaching an apex in the 1820’s, continues to influence fundamentally how the Court views tribes. Compressing history from the Founding through the  Jacksonian era undermines tribal authority and sovereignty within the Court. In its federal Indian law cases, the Court relies on racial stereotypes and popular conceptions of American history. As a result of these shortcuts, the Court folds all tribes into one large group, empties the American landscape of tribal  peoples, and forces tribes into a past where they only exist to disappear.

New Scholarship: “Property Law and American Empire”

Michael Burger and Paul Frymer have posted their paper, “Property Law and American Empire,” forthcoming in the University of Hawai’i Law Review.

Here is the abstract:

Current scholarship by legal commentators and political scientists recognizes that the weapons of American empire have involved non-militaristic activities as much as militaristic ones. Such non-militaristic activities include the hegemonic influence of trade agreements, the imposition of legal and procedural norms, and the dissemination of ideological and cultural predispositions through corporations and diverse medias. In this paper, we examine an under-explored area on the “soft” belly of the American leviathan, focusing specifically on how property and intellectual property law have operated on physical and ideological frontiers to comprehend, participate in, and legitimate the expansion of American empire. We offer new accounts of two historical instances of empire-building: the acquisition and seizure of property from Native Americans in the early- and mid-19th century, and the expropriation of intellectual property rights to plant genetic resources from indigenous communities in the global South in the late 20th century. These two stories, taken together, offer unique insights into both the process and the substance of law’s operation on the frontier of empire. They illuminate how the authority of law has fused with private power and legal legitimacy to enable the nation to expand swiftly, energetically, and powerfully. These insights, in turn, lead toward the more general conclusion that the rhetoric of property has functioned to subjugate peoples and places, cultures and natures, to an imperial regime.

New Scholarship: “The Savage Constitution”

Gregory Ablavsky has posted his paper, “The Savage Constitution,” forthcoming from the Duke Law Journal, on SSRN.

Here is the abstract:

Conventional histories of the Constitution largely omit Natives. This Article challenges this absence and argues that Indian affairs played a key role in the Constitution’s creation, drafting, and ratification. It traces two constitutional narratives about Indians: a “Madisonian” and a “Hamiltonian” perspective. Both views arose from the failure of Indian policy under the Articles of Confederation, where explicit national authority could not constrain states, squatters, and Native nations. Nationalists agreed that this failure underscored the need for a stronger federal state, but disagreed about the explanation. Madisonians blamed interference with federal treaties, while the Hamiltonians argued the federal military was too weak to overawe the “savages.”

Both accounts resulted in constitutional remedies. More important than the Indian Commerce Clause, provisions declared federal treaties supreme law, barred state treaty-making, and provided exclusive federal power over western territories. But expansionist states won concessions guaranteeing federal protection and western land claims, while other provisions created a fiscal-military state committed to western expansion.

The two narratives fared differently during ratification. Few embraced centralization, while the Federalists repeatedly invoked “savages” to justify a stronger federal state and a standing army. This argument swayed Georgia, which ratified to secure federal aid in its ongoing war with the Creeks. But it also elevated dispossession of Natives into a constitutional principle. The Article concludes by exploring this history’s interpretive implications. It suggests the Indian affairs context unsettles conventional understandings of the Constitution as intended to restrain state power, and challenges both originalist and progressive assumptions about constitutional history.

Ann Tweedy on Unjustifiable Expectations

Highly recommended!!!!

Ann Tweedy has posted her paper, “Unjustifiable Expectations,” on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

When the Supreme Court decides whether a tribe has jurisdiction over non-members on its reservation or addresses the related issue of reservation diminishment, it sometimes refers implicitly or explicitly to the non-Indians’ justifiable expectations, and Philip Frickey has argued that a concern with non-Indians’ justifiable expectations drives Court decisions about tribal jurisdiction even when the Court does not express that concern directly. The non-Indians’ assumed expectations arise from the fact that, when Congress opened up reservations to non-Indians during the allotment era, its assumption, and presumably that of non-Indians who purchased lands on reservations during that period, was that the reservations would disappear due to the federal government’s assimilationist policies, along with the tribes who governed them. To refute the idea that such non-Indian expectations were justifiable, I examine historical newspaper articles and other historical sources regarding the opening up of reservations to non-Indian purchasers, specifically focusing on articles relating to cessions by the Sioux Nation and especially the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. Such sources suggest that non-Indian purchasers were on notice, in at least some cases, of a potential violation of tribal rights in the opening of portions of reservations to non-Indian settlement. Based on my argument that “justifiability” encompasses both reasonableness and a notion of justice, this information is used to show that the non-Indian purchasers’ presumed expectations about the disappearance of reservations were not justifiable because the purchasers had notice in many cases that lands were unjustly being taken from the Sioux Nation and other tribes. If, as I will argue, non-Indian expectations of tribal disappearance were unjustifiable, such expectations should not be given weight in determinations of tribal jurisdiction today.

Online Documents of Maori Legal History

From the Legal History Blog:

The New Zealand Legal Text Centre had recently launched an on-line archive of documents relating to the legal history of the Maori, the indigenous people of the islands. Here is the announcement:

The New Zealand Electronic Text Centre is proud to announce the launch of the Legal Maori Archive, a collection of more than 14,000 pages of around 250 19th century documents that illustrate the bi-lingual nature of New Zealand’s legal history. The Legal Maori Archive is freely available to the public and can be accessed via the NZETC website.

Among the many documents featured in this collection are the following:

The Proceedings of the Kotahitanga Parliaments

Henry Hanson Turton’s Maori Deeds of Land Purchases in the North Island of New Zealand

Maori translations of Acts and Bills circulated among Maori communities by the Crown

The Archive has been created in conjunction with Mamari Stephens from the Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Law as part of a project to establish a corpus of legal Maori documents, which will allow the analysis of the language and eventually a dictionary of legal Maori terms and concepts. It is the first time the documents have been brought together in one place and is the largest collection of separate documents that the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre has digitised. The Legal Maori Project seeks to resource speakers of te reo Maori who may not currently have access to a shared vocabulary to describe Western legal concepts. This Project will collate, develop and make available the terminology from Legal Maori texts, including those from the Legal Maori Archive, to all speakers and learners of te reo Maori and all researchers

Kate Fort on The New Laches

Kate Fort of MSU College of Law has posted “The New Laches” on SSRN. This is the first comprehensive and historical study of the application of laches doctrine to sovereigns, federal, state, and tribal. Here is the abstract:

Tribal land claims are facing a new challenge from an old area of law. Courts have been paying special attention to the law of equity and how it can defeat tribal land claims. Specifically, the equitable defenses of laches, acquiescence, and impossibility were used by the Supreme Court to hand defeat to the Oneida Indian Nation on a tax issue. Since then, lower courts in the Second Circuit have used this precedent to deny Indian land claims. But are these three defenses based on precedent themselves? Rarely. Instead, they have been combined to create a new defense, what I will call the “new laches.” This new defense, so far used successfully in Indian land cases in New York state and unsuccessfully elsewhere, has been so broadly construed by the Second Circuit that, if this view is adopted nationwide, it could apply to any treaty-based claim brought by Indians or Indian tribes.

Miller and Ruru: A Comparative View of the Doctrine of Discovery

Bob Miller and Jacinta Ruru have posted “An Indigenous Lens into Comparative Law: The Doctrine of Discovery in the United States and New Zealand” on SSRN.

From the abstract:

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Maillard: “The Pocahontas Exception”

Kevin Noble Maillard (Syracuse Law) has posted an abstract to his wonderful paper, “The Pocahontas Exception: American Indians and Exceptionalism in Anti-miscegenation Law,” published in the Michigan Journal of Race & Law.

Kevin’s commentary in Indian Country Today, “Black and White,” can be accessed here. And his blog entry on blackprof.com is here.

From the abstract:

This article addresses the treatment of Native American ancestry as a curious exception to the threat of racial impurity. Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924 aimed to prevent all interracial marriages in the state between white and nonwhite persons. This anti-miscegenation statute sought to eradicate stealth intrusions of tainted blood into the white race, which proponents believed to be threatened by the quagmire of mongrelization. Exempted from this racial policing regime were those influential whites, the First Families of Virginia, who proudly claimed Native American ancestry from Pocahontas. For a statue with racial purity as its obsession and mantra, how does this exceptionalism hold? Why would Native American ancestry, as opposed to others, pass as acceptable nonwhite blood and good law? Even in our contemporary era, why do claims of the Cherokee Princess Grandmother not invoke multi-raciality? This disparity calls for a critical inquiry of the miscegenistic exceptionalism accorded to American Indians. With increasing numbers of Americans freely and lately claiming Native ancestry, we may ask why such affirmations do not meet the triumvirate of resistance, shame, and secrecy that regularly accompanies findings of partial African ancestry. This paper contends that anti-miscegenation laws relegate Indians to existence only in a distant past, creating a temporal dis-juncture to free Indians from a contemporary discourse of racial politics. I argue that such exemptions assess Indians as abstractions rather than practicalities. These practices bifurcate treatments of Indian blood, either essentializing a pre-modern and a historical culture, or trivializing this ancestry as inconsequential ethnicity.