New Fletcher Paper: “The Rise and Fall of the Ogemakaan”

Please check out my new paper, “The Rise and Fall of the Ogemakaan,” now available on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Anishinaabe (Odawa, Bodewadmi, and Ojibwe) legal and political philosophy is buried under the infrastructure of modern self-determination law and policy. Modern Anishinaabe tribes are rough copies of American governments. The Anishinaabeg (people) usually choose their ogemaag (leaders) through an at-large election process that infects tribal politics with individualized self-interest. Those elected leaders, what I call ogemaakaan (artificial leaders) preside over modern governments that encourage hierarchy, political opportunism, and tyranny of the majority. While modern tribal governments are extraordinary successes compared to the era of total federal control, a significant number of tribes face intractable political disputes that can traced to the philosophical disconnect from culture and tradition.

Anishinaabe philosophy prioritizes ogemaag who are deferential and serve as leaders only for limited purposes and times. Ogemaag are true representatives who act only when and how instructed to do so by their constituents. Their decisions are rooted in cultural and traditional philosophies, including for example Mino-Bimaadiziwin (the act of living a good life), Inawendewin (relational accountability), Niizhwaaswii Mishomis/Nokomis Kinoomaagewinawaan (the Seven Gifts the Grandfathers or Grandmothers), and the Dodemaag (clans). I offer suggestions on how modern tribal government structures can be lightly modified to restore much of this philosophy.

Revised: Penobscot Nation RFP for Constitution and Code Drafting

Here (PDF). The description:

This request for proposal (RFP) is to contract for legal drafting services to be provided for the Penobscot Nation, a federally recognized Indian tribe, for the period of December 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017.  Services to be provided will include assisting the Penobscot Nation Constitution Committee to draft its Constitution in time to be considered for adoption at the Nation’s June 2017 General Meeting (legislative body). Following the drafting of the Constitution, drafting of a code governing the operations of the Penobscot Nation Judicial System, comprised of the trial-level Tribal Court and the Court of Appeals will be undertaken.

Robert Miller on Tribal Constitutions and Their Influence on the American Constitution

Robert Miller has posted “American Indian Constitutions and Their Influence on the United States Constitution” on SSRN. 

Here is the abstract:

This paper analyzes modern-day American Indian constitutionalism. It describes the development of written constitutions by Indian nations and primarily focuses on constitutions developed since 1934 under the auspices of the federal Indian Reorganization Act. This paper also briefly examines the evidence that American Indian political philosophies, and traditional tribal governmental structures and ideas, influenced many of the Founding Fathers and the drafting of the United States Constitution.

Stephen Cornell on Indigenous Self-Government

Stephen Cornell has published “‘Wolves Have A Constitution:’ Continuities in Indigenous Self-Government” (PDF).

The abstract:

This article is about constitutionalism as an Indigenous tradition. The political idea of constitutionalism is the idea that the process of governing is itself governed by a set of foundational laws or rules. There is ample evidence that Indigenous nations in North America—and in Australia and New Zealand as well—were in this sense constitutionalists. Customary law, cultural norms, and shared protocols provided well understood guidelines for key aspects of governance by shaping both personal and collective action, the behavior of leaders, decision-making, dispute resolution, and relationships with the human, material, and spirit worlds. Today, many of these nations have governing systems imposed by outsiders. As they move to change these systems, they also are reclaiming their own constitutional traditions.

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.

Fletcher Paper on “Tribal Justice Systems”

I drafted a paper titled “Tribal Justice Systems” for the Allegheny College Undergraduate Conference “Democracy Realized? The Legacies of the Civil Rights Movement” and posted it on SSRN. You can download here.

Here is the abstract:

This short paper is produced for the Allegheny College conference Democracy Realized? The Legacies of the Civil Rights Movement (March 28-29, 2014).

United States Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, authored the Court’s opinion in Williams v. Lee, a decision hailed as the opening salvo in the modern era of federal Indian law. The Williams decision was the work of the liberal wing of the Court, with important input by Chief Justice Warren and Justices Brennan and Douglas. Williams, a ringing endorsement of inherent tribal governance authority, more specifically endorsed tribal justices systems as embodied in tribal courts. Without Williams and similar cases, it is unlikely that tribal governments and Congress would act to develop tribal justice systems. Williams, and the tribal courts that arose as a result, was a powerful civil rights decision that commentators rightfully have linked to Brown v. Board of Education.

This paper will survey several tribal justice systems in an effort to identify commonalities and complexities. There are hundreds of tribal justice systems in the United States; each of them unique in the details, but many of them similar to other tribal, state, and federal courts.

The paper is divided into three sections. The first two parts include a section on adversarial tribal justice systems and a section on non-adversarial tribal justice systems, often called restorative justice systems. The third part involves greater discussion of the complexities of incorporating tribal customary and traditional law into tribal common law.

In case one wonders, “Representing Justice” by Judith Resnik and Dennis Curtis influenced the paper.


More on Consent to Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction

We should add that at least one legal commentator and at least one other tribal court has previously discussed non-Indian consent to tribal criminal jurisdiction. The article (which is about more than simply consent, and which was authored by Chris Chaney) is here:


And the case is here:

Navajo v Hunter

Hunter seems to be about implied consent, while Hjert seems to be about express consent (which was ruled by that court to be invalid).