Volume 12: 2011-2012

Senior Editor-in-Chief

Christine Zuni-Cruz (Pueblos of Isleta & Ohkay Owingeh)


Barbara Creel (Pueblo of Jemez)

Managing Editors

Natasha Cuylear (Jicarilla Apache Nation)
Daniel Snyder

Professional Articles Editors

Billy Jimenez
Moses Winston

Student Articles Editors

Morgan Currey (Osage)
Consuelo Garcia

Senior Editors

JoEtta Toppah (Navajo Nation/Pawnee)
Jonathan Turner
Chelsea Van Deventer

External Project Coordinator

Preston Sanchez (Navajo Nation/Pueblo of Jemez)


Samantha Azure (Ft. Peck Sioux), Devin Delrow (Navajo Nation), Cherie Dominic (Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians), Ana Huerta, Evie Jilek,LeeAnne Kane, Dane Lauritzen, James Simermeyer (Coharie), Leah Stevens-Block


Ogalala Sioux Tribal Profile

By Karen Kimbro Chase
This profile by Karen Kimbro Chase offers an excellent overview of Oglala Sioux law, both traditional and modern. Like many tribes, the Indian Reorganization Act had a major impact on the contemporary law of the Oglala Sioux. While the IRA resulted in tribal constitutions that reflected the values of the U.S. Constitution, this profile examines the traditional and customary law that was subsequently incorporated into the Oglala Sioux Constitution. This profile includes a brief history of the Oglala Sioux, overview of traditional law, governmental structure, summary of contemporary law, and  history of political activism. 

Northern Cheyenne Tribe:  Traditional law and Constitutional Reform

By Sheldon C. Spotted Elk
This profile by Sheldon C. Spotted Elk examines the U.S. Government's infringement on the Northern Cheyenne's political sovereignty. Most significantly, this profile examines the relationship between the oral history of the Northern Cheyenne and its impact on traditional tribal governance and law. Following the Northern Cheyenne's adoption of a modern constitution, many members fought to continue living under a traditional constitution. Ultimately, the Northern Cheyenne a written IRA compatible constitution while maintaining an oral constitution.  The delicate balance allows the Northern Cheyenne to address modern issues while also keeping the fundamental traditional and customary law of the tribe alive.

Ho-Chunk Nation Tribal Law Profile

By Daniel B. Snyder
In this tribal profile Daniel B. Snyder provides an excellent point of reference for practitioners dealing with any legal matter within the Ho-Chunk Nation. Starting with an overview of the legal history of the tribe, including modern government and law, the author examines the traditional legal practices and responsibilities of the Ho-Chunk. Mr. Snyder then explores the modern judicial and legislative branches, and their work to preserve the tribe's traditional laws and customs. 

Judicial Selection Methods, Tribal Politics, and Strong Government: Navajo Nation at the Crossroads

By Bethany Sullivan
This article by Bethany Sullivan examines the judicial selection methods of the Navajo Nation and its impact on the Navajo Nation. After surveying the various methods of judicial selection by both the United State and Navajo Nation, the author explores potential changes to the existing selection methods of the Navajo Nation. Ultimately, however, the author argues for the maintenance of the existing selection methods and warns against future efforts to reform the Navajo appointive system. 

Volume 11: 2010-2011

Senior Editor-in-Chief

Christine Zuni-Cruz (Pueblos of Isleta & Ohkay Owingeh) (on sabbatical 2010-11)


Barbara Creel (Pueblo of Jemez)
Margaret Montoya

Managing Editor

Selesia Winston (Navajo Nation)

Professional Articles Editors

Renee Ashley (Navajo Nation)
Jonathan Polloni
Veronique Richardson (Pueblo of Laguna)

Student Articles Editors

Emily Luke (Northern Cheyenne)
Heidi Macdonald (Assiniboine Sioux)

Senior Staff

Margarita Araiza


Morgan Currey (Osage), Natasha Cuylear (Jicarilla Apache Nation), Kelly Dennis (Shinnecock Nation), Consuelo Garcia, Billy Jimenez, Preston Sanchez (Navajo Nation/Pueblo of Jemez), Daniel Snyder, JoEtta Toppah (Navajo Nation/Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma), Jonathan Turner, Moses Winston


Australian Aboriginality and Sociobiology

By Allan Ardill
“It has been argued elsewhere that the colonization, dispossession, and oppression of indigenous Australians have a close nexus with biological determinism, scientific racism, and the ideology known as sociobiology. In the United States similar arguments are made concerning the historic maltreatment meted out to African Americans.   In Australia, the concern is with the continuing colonial control over the identity of Australian Aboriginal people.”

In his essay Dr. Ardill explores indigenous Australian identity and its “reciprocal relationship with health, education, poverty, (loss of) language, native title, sovereignty and self-determination.” He argues “that the legal reasoning underpinning colonial control over Aboriginal identity is steeped in sociobiological ideology. That is to say, these ideas involve a hierarchy of race, and are further used to justify colonial control instead of embracing the principle of self-determination. This colonial rule fails to relinquish control in favour of self-determination in accord with international standards and instead applies a descent test.” Dr. Ardill explores a series of judicial tests that have been used to determine “Aboriginality”. He “concludes that despite the plethora of international tropes, rhetoric, and measures to decolonize, Australia retains colonial control over indigenous people through sociobiological legal processes that ultimately dictate who can be Aboriginal.”

Cultivating Native Intellect and Philosophy

Professor Christine Zuni Cruz (`83) was the focus of a March 10 symposium organized by the Tribal Law Journal. Cultivating Native Intellect and Philosophy: A Community Symposium Recognizing and Discussing the Contributions of Christine Zuni Cruz was the title of the symposium at the University of New Mexico School of Law.
Zuni Cruz's work was discussed in two panel discussions, which focused on Native thought and philosophy in tribal courts and community lawyering.
Professors Christine Zuni Cruz (`80) and Margaret Montoya
Professors Christine Zuni Cruz (`80) and Margaret Montoya present their own performance piece.
A member of Isleta Pueblo, Zuni Cruz joined the UNM law faculty in 1993 to establish the Southwest Indian Law Clinic (SILC). As co-director of SILC, she has developed cultural literacy methods for students and practitioners representing Indian tribes and Indian people. In her research and teaching, Zuni Cruz explores law and culture, including the impact of law on Indian families, the practice of Indian Law and lawyering for native communities and the internal traditional and modern law of indigenous peoples domestically and internationally.