State University of New York at Buffalo

State University of New York at Buffalo, Spring Semester, 2005

Indian Indian Law AMS 680/Law 808

Professor Errol Meidinger,, Room 719, O'Brian Hall; 645-6692 

Professor John Mohawk,, Room 1010, Clemens Hall; 645-2546 x1233  

6:15  - 9:15 pm, Wednesdays, Room 706, O'Brian Hall


This seminar explores the nature of legal order within Native American communities. Conventional courses in Indian Law typically focus on the law of the United States with regard to Indians and leave ‘Indian' Indian law as a largely unexplored residual. This is perverse, since an important element of all Indian law involves tribal sovereignty and Indian self determination, and therefore the internal law of Indian communities. Accordingly, this seminar turns the usual approach on its head, examining the nature and variety of legal ordering in native communities and treating federal Indian law to the extent necessary to understand its effects on modern native societies. The seminar begins with some historical examples of native law and then turns to contemporary ones. It focuses particularly on the ways in which native legal orders are distinct from European ones and also examines the interaction of native orders with European ones. Each student will (1) take responsibility for leading discussions of readings during the semester and (2) develop a research paper on law in a Native community and present it to the seminar. A prior course in Indian law or history is desirable, but not required. The course will include students from both Law and Native American Studies.


Working Syllabus -- Subject to Significant Change as the Course Develops

Class 1, 1/19

What is Law? What is Indian Law?

View and Discuss: The Fast Runner, (Lot 47/Sony) (2002)  

Class 2, 1/26

Introduction to Haudenosaunee Law and Culture

(1) Paul Williams, The Great Law (Draft) (mimeo -- available at the Law School Bookstore, 3rd Floor, O'Brian Hall)

(2) Patterson v. Council of Seneca Nation, 157 N.E. 734 (1927)
Discuss relationship between law and culture (click link)
-- Start thinking about research topics

Class 3, 2/2

Haudenosaunee Culture and Constitution

Guest Speaker: Paul Williams, Haudenosaunee Lawyer

(1) review, Williams, The Great Law (forthcoming)

(2) Paul Wallace, The White Roots of Peace: Iroquois Book of Life, Clear Light Books (1994)

Class 4, 2/9

Haudenosaunee Culture and Law

(1) William Newell, Crime and Justice Among the Iroquois Nations, Montreal: Caughnawaga Historical Society (1965)(mimeo -- law school bookstore) 

Class 5, 2/16

The Modern Haudenosaunee Legal System

Robert Porter, "Decolonizing Indigenous Governance: Observations on Restoring Greater Faith and Legitimacy in the Government of the Seneca Nation,"  Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy, 8:97-135 (1999)

Guest Speaker: Robert Porter, Professor of Law, Syracuse University (date not confirmed and subject to change)

Class 6, 2/23

Other Traditional Indian Legal Systems

(1) Karl N. Llewellyn and E. Adamson Hoebel, The Cheyenne Way: Conflict in Case Law in Primitive Jurisprudence, Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press (1941) (mimeo of selected excerpts) 
(2) Renard Strickland, "Wolf Warriors and Turtle Kings: Native American Law Before the Blue Coats," Washington Law Review, 72:1043-1062 (1997) (link)
-- Discuss possible research topics

Class 7, 3/2

John C. Mohawk, Iroquois Creation Story (mimeo)
-- Decide on research topics

Class 8, 3/9

The Relationship between Indian Law and European Law

(1) Chapter 1 in Peter Karsten, Between Law and Custom: "High" and "Low" Legal Cultures in the the Lands of the British Diaspora -- the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, 1600-1900, (2002)(mimeo)
(2) Laura Nader and Jay Ou, "Idealization and Power: Legality and Tradition in Native American Law," Oklahoma City University Law Review, 23:13-42 (1998) (link)

Class 9, 3/23

Modern Tribal Judicial Systems (1)

(1) Pages 1-135, Frank Pommersheim, Braid of Feathers: American Indian Law and Contemporary Tribal Life, Berkeley: Univ. of California (1995) (purchase)
(2) Christine Zuni, "Strengthening What Remains,"
Kansas Journal of Law and Public Policy, 7:17-29 (1997) (link)

Class 10, 3/30

Modern Tribal Judicial Systems (2)

(3) Nell Jessup Newton, "Tribal Court Praxis: One Year in the Life of Twenty Indian Tribal Courts," American Indian Law Review, 22:285-353 (1997)(link)
(4) Pat Sekaquaptewa, "Evolving the Hopi Common Law," Kansas Journal of Law and Public Policy, 9:761-784 (2000)(link)

Class 11, 4/6

Indian Law and International Law

S. James Anaya, Indigenous Peoples and International Law, New York: Oxford University Press (2004) (purchase)

Class 12, 4/13

Interaction among Indian, National, and International Systems

(1) The Dann Sisters Case

(2) Bruce G. Miller, The Problem of Justice: Tradition and Law in the Coast Salish World, University of Nebraska Press (2001) (purchase) 
(3) Akwesasne Notes, A Basic Call to Consciousness : The Haudenosaunee Address to the Western World (1986) (purchase)

Class 13, 4/20

Paper Presentations

Teresa Bailey
Lara Dunning
Chris Pittman
Sara Qreshi
Dendi Kartini
Brandon Martin

Class 14, 4/27

Paper Presentations

Jennifer Lovelace
Anne Garner
Barbara General

Urszula Piasta
Nikki Dragone
Taylor Chamberlain
Don Tinklepaugh

Class 15, 5/4

Paper Presentations

Jamie Hartzler
Evelyn Resario
Brian Swann
Jenny Chang
Babak Mohassel
Sandra Fischer
Ann Davey

Final Papers are due May 4 for those who present on the April 13 and April 20 and on May 6 for those who present on May 4. Hard copy to Professor Mohawk, digital to Professor Meidinger.