Jurisdiction in Indian Country

Jurisdiction in Indian Country

This course explores core doctrinal developments in the field of federal Indian law, paying close attention to Supreme Court decisions bearing on the scope of tribal and state governing authority in Indian country. We will study the Court's cases chronologically, endeavoring to follow the historic development of two overarching doctrinal themes: (1) federal preclusion of state authority in Indian country (including the modern preemption and "infringement" theories); and (2) federal recognition of the extent and limits of inherent tribal sovereignty (including the "implicit divestiture" theory). We first will examine closely the full majority opinions and selected and edited concurring and dissenting opinions from the early Indian law cases of the John Marshall Court, with a view toward discerning how these opinions either foreshadow or clash with later doctrinal developments. We then will critically examine the subsequent cases that elaborate the state-power and tribal-power doctrines indicated above. To aid us in our study, we occasionally may supplement our reading of the Supreme Court's Indian law cases with articles by Indian law scholars and other commentators.