NYTs “Room for Debate” — Tribal Rights vs. Racial Justice (Cherokee Freedmen Expulsion)

The New York Times’ “Room for Debate” series has published a series of articles on the Cherokee Freedmen controversy.

Debaters

Friends of Turtle Talk Participate in NYTs Debate on the Future of Law School

Here for a full roster of debaters. Here for Kevin Noble Maillard, and here for Rose Cuison Villazor.

And also here:

 

Rose Cuison Villazor on Ariela Gross’s “What Blood Won’t Tell”

Rose Cuison Villazor has posted, “Reading Between the (Blood) Lines,” forthcoming the Southern California Law Review. This paper is her book review of Ariela Gross’s “What Blood Won’t Tell.” Here is the abstract:

Legal scholars and historians have depicted the rule of hypodescent – that “one drop” of African blood categorized one as Black – as one of the powerful ways that law and society deployed to construct racial identities and deny equal citizenship. Ariela J. Gross’s new book, “What Blood Won’t Tell: A History of Race on Trial in America,” boldly complicates the dominant narrative about hypodescent rules in legal scholarship. On the one hand, “What Blood Won’t Tell” argues that the legal and social construction of race was far more complex, flexible and subject to manipulation than the scholarship regarding the rules about blood distinctions has suggested. On the other hand, “What Blood Won’t Tell” highlights circumstances, both historically and in recent memory, of the ways in which blood distinctions played crucial roles in shaping the identity of people of color, including indigenous peoples. Importantly, “What Blood Won’t Tell” also examines how blood quantum rules relate to contemporary efforts to reassert indigenous peoples’ sovereignty and claims to lands.

This Review highlights the important contributions of “What Blood Won’t Tell” to our understanding of the racial experience of indigenous peoples and the contemporary methods used to remedy the present-day effects of indigenous peoples’ colonial experience. “What Blood Won’t Tell” advances a more robust account of the racialization of people of color through rules about blood differences in at least three ways. First, it places the colonial experience of indigenous peoples within the larger historical contexts of racial subordination and efforts to promote White domination and privilege. Second, it underscores the federal government’s ongoing responsibility to counteract the long-standing effects of its past misdeeds by addressing indigenous peoples’ unresolved claims to lands that have been stolen from them. Third, it allows us to take a careful look at the relationship between blood quantum rules and the right of indigenous peoples to exercise self-determination. Taken together, these three perspectives reveal the immense challenges inherent to remedying the long-term effects of the racialization and colonization of indigenous peoples.

Rose Villazor on Blood Quantum Laws and Equal Protection

Rose Cuison Villazor (SMU) has published “Blood Quantum Land Laws and the Race Versus Political Identity Dilemma” in the California Law Review. This is a great paper. Here is the abstract:

Modern equal protection doctrine treats laws that make distinctions on the basis of indigeneity defined on blood quantum terms along a racial versus political paradigm. This dichotomy may be traced to Morton v. Mancari and, more recently, to Rice v. Cayetano. In Mancari, the Supreme Court held that laws that privilege members of American Indian tribes do not constitute racial discrimination because the preferences have a political purpose – to further the right of self-government of federally recognized American Indian tribes. Rice crystallized the juxtaposition of the racial from the political nature of indigeneity by invalidating a law that privileged Native Hawaiians. That law, according to the Court, used an ancestral blood requirement to construct a racial category and a racial purpose as opposed to the legally permissible political purpose of promoting the right of self-government of American Indian tribes.

Close analysis of the dichotomy between the constitutive notion of indigenous blood as either racial or political has largely escaped scholarship. An analysis deconstructing their juxtaposition is sorely needed. As recent  [*802] challenges to blood quantum laws show, there remain unanswered questions about the extent to which the racialized (and thus invalid) Native Hawaiian-only voting law impact other blood quantum laws. Among the laws implicated by the dichotomy between the racial and political meaning of indigeneity are land ownership laws that privilege indigenous peoples who are not federally recognized tribes. Specifically, in some jurisdictions in the United States, including Hawaii, Alaska, and the U.S. territories, only indigenous peoples may purchase or possess property. Perhaps more problematically, these property laws define indigeneity on the basis of blood quantum. Under the contemporary race versus political meaning of blood quantum, these laws arguably violate equal protection principles because they do not fit the current framing of what constitutes political indigeneity.

Using these laws – what I collectively refer to as blood quantum land laws – as frames of reference, this Essay interrogates and criticizes the juxtaposition of the racial and political meaning of indigeneity. Specifically, the Essay examines the legal construction of political indigeneity and demonstrates how its narrowed construction would undermine these blood quantum land laws that were enacted to reverse the effects of colonialism. Consequently, this Essay calls for the liberalization of the binary racial and political paradigm by expanding equal protection law’s interpretation of the meaning of political indigeneity. Toward this end, this Essay provides an initial analysis of how to broaden the political notion of indigeneity, focusing in particular on the relationships among property, indigeneity, and the right to self-determination.