Barstow Lecturer to Explain History of Indian Land Law
Saginaw Valley State University will host a lecture by American Indian legal expert Matthew Fletcher Thursday, April 1 at 7:30 p.m. in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall. In his talk, he will explain how a 2007 decree finally ended a 170-year-old dispute regarding Michigan Indians’ land rights. The lecture is part of SVSU’s Barstow Humanities Seminar series.
Fletcher says the delay owes its origins to miscommunication. In 1836, five Michigan Indian tribes entered into a treaty with the state and federal governments over “inland rights” – a treaty in which the Indians ceded their land in exchange for defined areas where they could fish, hunt and gather. The problem was that two of the treaty’s key words – “occupancy” and “settlement” – had vastly different meanings in the local Indian language. Relying on their understanding, the Indians agreed to the treaty.