This course analyzes the nature, scope and limitations of civil rights in Indian Country. As a dual-citizen with a distinct political relationship with a tribal government and the United States government as separate sovereigns, the individual Indian occupies a unique position in civil rights law. Students will examine the emergence of civil rights protections for individual Indians and discuss 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 the foundational questions of equal protection, due process, religious freedom, and protection from harm at the hands of the government for Indians on and off the reservation.
The course examines 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. Depending on the instructor, focus areas may include federal/state/tribal Indian civil rights actions in religious freedom, education, speech, gender, identity, enrollment and status, police action, and prisons.
The class also examines 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 revisit the so-called tension between individual rights and tribal collective rights and generate a discussion on tribal self-determination, good governance, and human rights.
Course Objectives/Expected Outcomes:
The goal of the course is to review civil rights in the tribal/federal context and to inquire whether federal/tribal civil rights laws work for Indian peoples. The course raises questions about civil rights protections, abuses, enforcement mechanisms, and remedies for tribal peoples. One objective of the course is to assist students in evaluating protections and remedies afforded to tribal peoples to challenge laws and governmental conduct that violate the United States Constitution or the Indian Civil Rights Act or both. Students will critically review civil rights issues in an Indian law context and develop frameworks, perspectives and responses to better protect Indian individual rights and include the tribe and tribal community interests.
Major Assignments/Method Of Evaluation & Assessment:
Attendance and Participation
Short Written Assignments on Reading Materials and Emerging Issues