Conflicts of Indian Law

Conflicts of Indian Law

Course Description

This variable-credits seminar focuses on conflicting assertions of tribal, federal, and state authority affecting Indian tribes in Indian country. The objective of the seminar is to facilitate a deeper understanding of the origins, essence, and trajectory of current doctrine and theory defining the scope and limits of tribal, federal, and state power in Indian country. Special attention is paid to the emergence and dominance of the discrete but related concepts of the "implicit divestiture" of tribal sovereignty, state infringement of tribal self-government, and federal preemption of state authority in Indian country. Supreme Court cases addressing these concepts will be examined in detail, with students assigned to initiate discussions of cases on a rotating basis. Occasionally, important articles by Indian law scholars and other commentators also may be assigned.

There are no exams for this seminar. Instead, the seminar entails two writing components: (1) a midterm paper tracing and critically evaluating the development of the doctrines of state jurisdiction in Indian country, as covered in class; and (2) a mock Supreme Court opinion reversing an assigned actual or hypothetical lower court decison regarding tribal jurisdiction in Indian country, due at the end of the semester. Grades are based on the quality of students' written work and classroom participation.

To enroll in the course, students must have taken Indian Law previously, or be concurrently enrolled in Indian Law, or else have obtained the professor's permission based on significant previous Indian law-related work or study.