Culture Talk or Culture War in Federal Indian Law?

Tulsa Law Review, Forthcoming

21 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2010

See all articles by Alexander Tallchief Skibine

Alexander Tallchief Skibine

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law


In this article, I ask whether in the area of Native American cultural and religious rights federal law is more inclined towards “culture talk” meaning accommodations and compromises, or whether the attitude is more one of “culture war,” meaning geared towards confrontation and intolerance. I answer the question by focusing on how the law has treated Native American rights in four areas: use of peyote and controlled substances, possession of eagle feathers, implementation of the Native American Graves Protection Act, and protection of sacred sites. Not surprisingly, I conclude that there are both culture talks and culture wars going on. On the other hand, perhaps surprisingly, I find that among the three branches of the federal government, the courts have been the least willing to accommodate Native cultural and religious interests.

Keywords: Native Americans, Native American culture, Native American Religion, Sacred sites

JEL Classification: Q15, Q24, Q28

Suggested Citation

Skibine, Alexander Tallchief, Culture Talk or Culture War in Federal Indian Law?. Tulsa Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Alexander Tallchief Skibine (Contact Author)

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States

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