Skip to main content

Volume 8: 2007-2008


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

Managing Editors

Christina Kracher (Little Shell/Turtle Mountain Ojibwe)
Laura Oropeza (Navajo Nation)

Special Projects Editor

Christina Kracher (Little Shell/Turtle Mountain Ojibwe) (Spring 2008)


Stacy Allison (Navajo Nation), Jenny Coig (Fall 2007), Jocelyn Garrison, Heather Jaramillo, Jacob Keyes (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma), Lauren Koller, (Fall 2007), Gertrude Lee (Navajo Nation), Carrie Martell, Rebecca Parish (Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh), Eduardo Provencio, Kristin Sanderson (Navajo Nation)

Law School Support Staff

Barbara Jacques (Spring 2008)
Mitzi Vigil (Fall 2007)


The Origins, Current Status, and Future Prospects of Blood Quantum as the Definition of Membership in The Navajo Nation

By Paul Spruhan
In this article, the author discusses the origin of the Navajo Nation's blood requirement. Mr. Spruhan examines the intended purpose of the quarter-blood quantum definition and the role of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He reviews the current status, regulation, and recent attempts to change the quarter-blood quantum requirement. He discusses the future of the quarter-blood quantum requirement with respect to the Navajo Nation Council's 2002 resolution known as the "Fundamental Laws of the Diné," a resolution mandating the application of traditional law, customary law, natural law, and common law to the Navajo Nation Government and its entities. In this regard, Mr. Spruhan inquires as to the impact the "Fundamental Laws of the Diné" will have on the quarter-blood quantum requirement and future membership requirements.

Customary Law: The Way Things Were, Codified

By Ezra Rosser
The author explores the meaning of customary law from its most general meaning to the meaning and application within various tribal courts. Mr. Rosser discusses the weight of customary law when choice of law and conflict of law issues arise within tribal courts. He discusses the challenges in uniformly applying customary law. He also discusses the challenges in substantiating customs when presented to a tribal court, including the use of experts. Mr. Rosser highlights the complexity and variance of customary law between tribal courts while emphasizing the importance of tribal jurisprudence. Finally, the author provides an appendix of rules and rights derived from the customary laws of various tribes.

The XHOSA and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission: African Ways

By Douglas H.M. Carver
The author begins by providing a conceptual framework for indigenous people generally and then focuses on indigenous people in South Africa. Mr. Carver then discusses the culture and customs of the Xhosa, one of the main ethnic groups from the Republic of South Africa. He then discusses the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), set up in South Africa after the fall of the apartheid regime, which was meant to rebuild a society divided by racial and ethnic lines. The author explains how the Xhosa concept of "ubuntu" – encompassing African concepts of justice, harmony and reconciliation — became a core concept adapted by the TRC to support non-retributive justice. The author also discusses the criticisms related to the TRC, and concludes that the TRC could be used as a model for resolution of conflicts in other parts of Africa.

Indian Law Clinics and Externship Symposium Roundtable Discussion: Lawyering for Indigenous People

Several native and non-native Indian Law clinicians and scholars participated in a roundtable discussion on June 22, 2007 in Albuquerque, New Mexico to discuss lawyering for indigenous people. The attendees were organized into three different groups: discussants, respondents, and participants. The discussants began the dialogue and discussed their experiences in representing tribes to representing individual native clients in various areas of law. They discussed what it means as a lawyer "to do no harm" and their roles and challenges in teaching students how to serve native populations. The respondents provided their responses to the various topics presented by the discussants. The participants, the audience, provided the final responses to the comments made by both the discussants and respondents.