Library Highlights: Native American Law


Introduction to Tribal legal Studies

Justin B. Richland and Sarah Deer

KF8205 .R53 2010

From the Publisher: This second edition of Introduction to Tribal Legal Studies is the only available comprehensive introduction to tribal law. In clear and straightforward language, Justin B. Richland and Sarah Deer discuss the history and structure of tribal justice systems; the scope of criminal and civil jurisdictions; and the various means by which the integrity of tribal courts is maintained. This book is an indispensable resource for students, tribal leaders, and tribal communities interested in the complicated relationship between tribal, federal, and state law. The second edition provides significant updates on all changes in laws affecting the tribes, numerous new case studies (including studies on Alaskan tribes and family law), and a new concluding chapter.

Children, Tribes, and States: Adoption and Custody Conflicts over American Indian Children

Barbara Ann Atwood

KF8210.C45 A98 2010

From the Publisher: Children, Tribes, and States offers a multi-layered critique of Indian child welfare law. The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) provides the governing law and reflects the prevailing federal policy. Three decades after its enactment, the law remains controversial. On one hand, Atwood agrees that many state courts still resist ICWA’s jurisdictional provisions because of distrust of tribes and tribal courts. These jurisdictional battles not only deter the courts from addressing the merits of the children’s cases but also prolong the children’s stay in temporary care. On the other hand, she argues that when a state court decides the placement of an Indian child, it must take into account the child’s individual needs. The book explores alternative placements that may conform to the culture of a child’s tribe, such as customary adoption and kinship guardianships. Atwood proposes reforms that aim to protect the children’s well-being while fitting with contemporary understandings of tribal sovereignty and the promotion of cultural identity.

Navajo Courts and Navajo Common Law: A Tradition of Tribal Self-Governance Raymond D. Austin

KF8228.N3 A95 2009

From the Publisher: The Navajo Nation court system is the largest and most established tribal legal system in the world. Since the landmark 1959 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Williams v. Lee that affirmed tribal court authority over reservation-based claims, the Navajo Nation has been at the vanguard of a far-reaching, transformative jurisprudential movement among Indian tribes in North America and indigenous peoples around the world to retrieve and use traditional values to address contemporary legal issues. A justice on the Navajo Nation Supreme Court for sixteen years, Justice Raymond D. Austin has been deeply involved in the movement to develop tribal courts and tribal law as effective means of modern self-government. He has written foundational opinions that have established Navajo common law and, throughout his legal career, has recognized the benefit of tribal customs and traditions as tools of restorative justice. In Navajo Courts and Navajo Common Law, Justice Austin considers the history and implications of how the Navajo Nation courts apply foundational Navajo doctrines to modern legal issues. He explains key Navajo foundational concepts like Hózhó (harmony), K’é (peacefulness and solidarity), and K’éí (kinship) both within the Navajo cultural context and, using the case method of legal analysis, as they are adapted and applied by Navajo judges in virtually every important area of legal life in the tribe. In addition to detailed case studies, Justice Austin provides a broad view of tribal law, documenting the development of tribal courts as important institutions of indigenous self-governance and outlining how other indigenous peoples, both in North America and elsewhere around the world, can draw on traditional precepts to achieve self-determination and self-government, solve community problems, and control their own futures.

Broken Landscape: Indian Tribes and the Constitution

Frank Pommersheim

KF8205 .P63 2009

From the Publisher: Broken Landscape is a sweeping chronicle of Indian tribal sovereignty under the United States Constitution and the way that legal analysis and practice have interpreted and misinterpreted tribal sovereignty since the nation’s founding. The Constitution formalized the relationship between Indian tribes and the United States government–a relationship forged through a long history of war and land usurpation–within a federal structure not mirrored in the traditions of tribal governance. Although the Constitution recognized the sovereignty of Indian nations, it did not safeguard tribes against the tides of national expansion and exploitation. As [this title] demonstrates, the federal government has repeatedly failed to respect the Constitution’s recognition of tribal sovereignty. Instead, it has favored excessive, unaccountable authority in its dealings with tribes. The Supreme Court has strayed from its Constitutional roots as well, consistently issuing decisions over two centuries that have bolstered federal power over the tribes.

Facing the Future: The Indian Child Welfare Act at 30

edited by Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Wenona T. Singel, and Kathryn E. Fort

KF8210.C45 F33 2009

From the Publisher: This is a comprehensive evaluation of well-intentioned but problematic federal legislation: The U.S. Congress is charged with responsibility for the protection and preservation of American Indian tribes, including Indian children. In 1978, Congress enacted the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), with the intent to “protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families.” ICWA sets federal requirements that apply to state child custody proceedings involving an Indian child who is a member of or eligible for membership in a federally recognized tribe. ICWA also sets out federal requirements regarding removal of Indian children and their placement in foster or adoptive homes, and it allows the child’s tribe to intervene in the case. The history of the Act is a tangle of legal, social, and emotional complications. Some state courts have found unusual legal arguments to avoid applying the law, while some states have gone beyond the terms of the Act to provide greater protections for Indian people. This collection brings together for the first time a multidisciplinary assessment of the law — with scholars, practitioners, lawyers, and social workers all offering perspectives on the value and importance of the Indian Child Welfare Act.

The Supreme Court’s Role in American Indian Policy

John H. Vinzant

KF8205 .V56 2009

From the Publisher: Vinzant demonstrates how the Supreme Court has been effective at shaping American Indian policy in the areas of tribal sovereignty and the trust responsibility. He explains how the Court, has been able to be very active in stripping away tribal sovereignty while Congress has responded to restrain the Court. Vinzant introduces the idea of effectiveness in judicial policymaking and argues that the Court has been highly effective in making American Indian policy. Vinzant demonstrates how the Supreme Court has been effective at shaping American Indian policy in the areas of tribal sovereignty and the trust responsibility. He explains how the Court, has been able to be very active in stripping away tribal sovereignty while Congress has responded to restrain the Court. Vinzant introduces the idea of effectiveness in judicial policymaking and argues that the Court has been highly effective in making American Indian policy.

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