Reconstituting Haudenosaunee Law, Sovereignty and Governance
7 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2017
Date Written: October 31, 1998
This article introduces a symposium issue on "Law, Sovereignty, and Tribal Governance: The Iroquois Confederacy" that grew out of a conference at the University at Buffalo Law School in 1998. The symposium was heavily attended and debated by the indigenous peoples of the region. The article argues that core lessons of the conference included the requirement to understand and implement sovereignty as tool of cultural survival, particularly in its insistence on a land base; that sovereignty has been adopted as a central concept by Indian peoples both because it provides a necessary social bulwark and because it facilitates a discursive connection with non-native peoples; that tribal sovereignty requires a continual defense and reinvention of governance institutions; and that tribal sovereignty includes not just relative political autonomy, but also political good sense — "sound thinking" in the classical indigenous understanding.
Keywords: Indian law, tribal sovereignty, Iroquois confederacy, cultural survival, indigenous people, Haudenosaunee
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