Has Federal Indian Law Finally Arrived at 'The Far End of the Trail of Tears'?

50 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2020 Last revised: 10 Aug 2021

See all articles by Ann E. Tweedy

Ann E. Tweedy

University of South Dakota School of Law

Date Written: September 2, 2020


This essay examines the United States Supreme Court’s July 9, 2020 decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma, which held that the historic boundaries of the Creek reservation remain intact, and argues that the decision likely signals a sea change in the course of federal Indian law of the magnitude of Obergefell v. Hodges in the LGBT rights arena. The essay shows how the opinion lays a very strong foundation for a much-needed return to traditional federal Indian law principles, respectful treatment of tribal governments as a third sovereign in the American system, and an understanding of fairness from the perspective of tribes and Native individuals. The possible effects of Justice Barrett's replacement of Justice Ginsburg on the Court's future federal Indian law jurisprudence are also explored. The essay concludes with the hope that Justice Gorsuch’s majority opinion will foster predictability in the wildly unstable area of disestablishment and diminishment jurisprudence, as well as in other facets of federal Indian law.

Keywords: diminishment, disestablishment, Indian country, treaty rights, reservations, reservation status, criminal law, statutory construction, McGirt v. Oklahoma, McGirt, Sharp v. Murphy, Justice Barrett, Amy Coney Barrett, canons of construction, Indian canons, Cooley, United States v. Cooley

JEL Classification: R38, Z18

Suggested Citation

Tweedy, Ann E., Has Federal Indian Law Finally Arrived at 'The Far End of the Trail of Tears'? (September 2, 2020). Georgia State University Law Review, Vol. 37, No. 3, pp. 739-787 (2021), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3684971

Ann E. Tweedy (Contact Author)

University of South Dakota School of Law ( email )

414 E. Clark Street
Vermillion, SD SD 57069
United States
57069 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.usd.edu/faculty-and-staff/Ann-Tweedy

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics