School navigation

Law Courses Catalog

Federal Indian Law

NOTE: This course description is for Summer 2017. You may read the course description for Fall 2016 immediately below this one. 

Summer 2017

Overview

The principal focus of this course is to introduce students to the important and unique body of law known as Indian Law. Topics to be covered include the history of federal Indian law and policy, the federal-tribal relationship, tribal sovereignty and self-government, state authority in Indian country, Indian religion and culture, concepts of property in Indian law, and hunting, fishing, and water rights.

Emphasis will be placed not only on the reading and understanding of cases and statutes, but also on the larger forces including history, culture, and the formation of policy. The course will further examine the pressing and unresolved frontier Indian law questions and policy issues that continue to exist throughout Indian country. In addition, the course is rife with questions about sovereignty and the response of law to `difference,’ as well as moral and ethical issues concerning the role of law in dealing with indigenous people in a modern constitutional democracy.

Class discussion will focus on the major developments and cases, although students should be prepared to discuss all the assigned material including materials and experience outside the text. Preparation and class discussion are critical to the success of the course.

Course Requirements

Student responsibilities are twofold:

  • Attendance and class participation (20 points)
  • Final take home examination (80 points)

NOTE: This course description is new for the 2016-2017 academic year. You may read the prior course description immediately below the new one. 

2016-2017

This course provides an overview of federal Indian law, i.e. the federal policies and laws regarding tribal governments and individual Indians. Topics will include the origin and scope of federal power over Indian affairs, the nature and history of intergovernmental relations, the scope of tribal governmental authority, civil and criminal jurisdiction in Indian Country, as well as current issues in federal Indian law such as gaming, fishing rights, and religious freedom. The classes will include group work on practical issues in Indian country. Students will be graded primarily on a final exam but grades will be impacted by attendance and participation.

Course student goals include being 1) able to recognize and understand the basic principles of federal Indian law, 2) familiar with the historical context of federal Indian law, 3) able to understand and apply the key U.S. Supreme Court decisions and federal Indian statutes, 4) able to understand critically examine related, current legal and public policy issues, and 5) able to effectively communicate, orally and in writing, an appropriate and effective analysis of issues related to federal Indian law.

NOTE: This course description is new for the 2015-2016 academic year. You may read the prior course description immediately below the new one. 

2015-2016

The following course description applies to the Spring 2016 semester:

The principal focus of this course is to introduce students to the important and unique body of law known as Indian Law. Topics to be covered include the history of federal Indian law and policy, the federal-tribal relationship, tribal sovereignty, and self-government, state authority in Indian country, Indian religion and culture, concepts of property in Indian law, and hunting, fishing, and water rights. Emphasis will be placed not only on the reading and understanding of cases and statutes, but also on the larger forces including history, culture, and the formation of policy. The course will further examine the pressing and unresolved frontier Indian law questions and policy issues that continue to exist throughout Indian country. In addition, the course is rife with questions about sovereignty and the response to law to difference, as well as moral and ethical issues concerning the role of law in dealing with indigenous people in modern constitutional democracy. Class discussions will focus on the major developments and cases, although students should be prepared to discuss all the assigned material including the materials outside the text. These materials are particularly important to complement, to highlight, and to deepen the perspective of the textual materials. Preparation and class discussion are critical to the success of the course. A field trip to visit a tribal court will also be included.

 

There will be a final exam. There is also an optional paper (25-30 pages in length). If the student completes the optional paper, the percentage weights for the final exam and paper change.

NOTE: The below course descriptions apply to prior academic years.

The following course description applies to non-Summer offerings prior to the 2015-2016 academic year.

This course covers the development of Federal Indian Law from the late 18th century to the present. Emphasis is given to unique principles of law concerning tribal sovereignty, tribal regulation of non-Indians, the federal trust relationship, tribal hunting, fishing, and water rights, treaties, casinos and reservation economic development and the interplay between tribal, state, and federal criminal and civil jurisdiction. Special attention is given to federal statutes that pertain specifically to Native Americans, for example, regarding civil rights, self governance, and religious and cultural freedom. These statutes, and the above principles of law, are discussed in the context of self-determination principles. Papers may be written in lieu of the exam and can meet the capstone writing requirement and can apply towards the Environmental Law Certificate.

Summer ONLY

The principal focus of this course is to introduce students to the important and unique body of law known as Federal Indian Law. Topics to be covered include the history of federal Indian law and policy, the federal-tribal relationship, tribal sovereignty and self-government, state authority in Indian country, Indian religion and culture, concepts of property in Indian law, and hunting, fishing, and water rights. Emphasis will be placed not only on the reading and understanding of cases and statutes, but also on the larger forces including history, culture, and the formation of policy. The course will further examine the pressing and unresolved frontier Indian law questions and policy issues that continue to exist throughout Indian country. In addition, the course is rife with questions about sovereignty and the response of law to difference, as well as moral and ethical issues concerning the role of law in dealing with indigenous people in a modern constitutional democracy. Class discussions will focus on the major developments and cases, although students should be prepared to discuss all the assigned material including the materials outside the text. These materials are particularly important to complement, to highlight, and to deepen the perspective of the textual materials. Preparation and class discussion are critical to the success of the course.