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Original Understanding of the Political Status of Indian Tribes


Matthew L. M. Fletcher


Michigan State University College of Law


Michigan State University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 04-20
St. John's Law Review, Vol. 82

Abstract:     
This Article will demonstrate that virtually all elements of Indian affairs can be traced to the decision of the United States to recognize Indian tribes as political entities and to make Indian law and policy based on the political status of Indian tribes. Indian law is often assumed to be race law. As a result, observers tend to try to force Indian law into the constitutional race law paradigm. Justice Blackmun's footnote 24 in Morton v. Mancari - describing federal legislation and rules relating to Indian tribes as a political classification - hit upon the proper understanding of Indian law. The implementation of the rule of Johnson v. M'Intosh, Indian treaties, and Acts of the First Congress offers significant evidence that the original understanding of the Founders was that Indian tribes and the federal government enjoy a political relationship, not racial.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 34

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Date posted: March 13, 2007  

Suggested Citation

Fletcher, Matthew L. M., Original Understanding of the Political Status of Indian Tribes. Michigan State University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 04-20 ; St. John's Law Review, Vol. 82. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=969451

Contact Information

Matthew L. M. Fletcher (Contact Author)
Michigan State University College of Law ( email )
318 Law College Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300
United States
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