School navigation

Law Courses Catalog

Native American Indian Civil Rights

This course analyzes the nature, scope and limitations of civil rights protections in Indian Country for Native American Indians and non-Natives. As a dual-citizen, the Native American Indian possesses a distinct political relationship with tribal government(s) and the United States government as separate sovereigns. Thus, the individual Indian occupies a unique position in civil rights law. The course looks to the power and limitations of the United States to adequately protect the civil rights of Natives under its own constitution, as well as the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 (ICRA) as a vehicle to protect the rights of individual Indians vis-a-vis their tribe or other tribal governments.

Students will examine the emergence of civil rights protections for individual Indians in Indian law and constitutional law, and study their enforcement in federal, state and tribal courts. We will identify the constitutional and statutory protections afforded to Indians and non-Indians and evaluate their impact and efficacy for Indians in state/federal and tribal forums and non-Indians in tribal courts. Materials will address foundational principles of equal protection, due process, religious freedom, and protection from harm at the hands of the government for (non) Indians on and off the reservation.

The class also explores the tribal role and response to ICRA, including the development of tribal infrastructures, common law and remedies to protect its citizens. Throughout the course, students will be challenged to analyze the so-called tension between individual rights and tribal collective rights and generate a discussion on tribal self-determination, good governance, and human rights.