Thursday, June 28, 2007

American Indian Law Review Planning to Go Peer-Reviewed

I just learned today that the American Indian Law Review is planning to re-make itself into a peer-reviewed journal for its Spring 2008 issue. They are still working on how exactly to do that and are asking for advice, comments, etc. from the field. Email their EIC, Stephanie E. Moser Goins.

I think this is a great chance for the field to revitalize itself by supporting a flagship peer-review journal. The chances for AILR to be successful in its transition increase the more Indian law scholars participate in the process.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Smith reelected Cherokee Principal Chief; BIA refuses to accept constitutional amendment resulting in disenfranchisement of Cherokees has the following useful posts reporting the results in the Cherokee election for Principal Chief and including links to BIA correspondence and judicial documents relating to recent constitutional amendments. Chief Chad Smith was reelected with about 59% of the vote over 41% for incumbent (and Cherokee Justice and University of Kansas law professor) Stacy Leeds. The 2007 constitutional amendment requiring Cherokee blood for membership was apparently an important issue in the race; although both candidates supported the Cherokee voters right to define their membership, Justice Leeds authored the decision declaring disenfranchisement illegal under an earlier version of the Cherokee constitution. Under a temporary restraining order issued by the federal district court, Cherokee freedmen were to be allowed to vote in the election.

Equally interesting are the recent decisions of the BIA regarding whether to approve the constitutional amendments. After the Cherokee people voted to remove the secretarial approval requirement from its constitution, the BIA originally refused to accept the amendments because the freedmen citizens had not been permitted to vote. According to the district court in Vann v. Kempthorne, however, then Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Neal McCaleb wrote to Chief Smith that, "I did not sign the March 15 letter and did not authorize the use of the autopen to engross my signature on the letter. The letter is of no validity or effect and should be disregarded." Id. The letter went on to say that the BIA had "no objection to the referendum as proposed" and that McCaleb was "prepared to approve the amendment deleting the requirement for Federal approval of future amendments." Id. at 2. The district court took this correspondence as evidence of final agency action approving the amendment, authorizing the Nation to amend its constitutional citizenship requirements without BIA approval.

In a May 2007 letter, however, the BIA rejected that finding, holding that the constitutional amendment was not approved, and refusing to approve the amendment because the Cherokee Freedmen were not permitted to vote in the referendum. On June 22, the BIA clarified that despite this decision, it would not withhold funding from the Nation until directed to do so by legislation or court order. Representative Maxine Waters has proposed legislation to do just that. The fact that Representative Eni Faleomavaega of American Samoa, and a consistent supporter of tribal sovereignty, has joined her in the legislation shows how this issue is dividing supporters of tribal sovereignty.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Entry Level Indian Law Faculty Position

This has been emailed around but it is also posted to the classifieds on Indian Country Today so it seems okay and worthwhile to post this job posting here:

THE UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO COLLEGE OF LAW seeks to fill an entry-level, tenure-track faculty position beginning in the Fall of 2008 in the area of Indian Law. The teaching package for the position will also include Civil Procedure. Teaching assignments could also include other courses in the area of Indian Law or courses relevant to the successful applicant's Indian Law expertise and the needs of the College of Law. Applicants should have a JD from an accredited college and possess a distinguished academic record and post J.D. practice, clerking and/or teaching experience. We seek applicants who show promise as excellent teachers and productive scholars. Applications from individuals with a demonstrated commitment to Indian Law including scholarship in the area and/or significant experience working with tribes or with Indian people are encouraged. Situated in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, the University of Idaho is located in close physical proximity to the Coeur d'Alene and Nez Perce Indian Reservations and has working relationships with both tribes. The University is a comprehensive research institution that is enriched by its proximity to Washington State University. Interested persons should either apply online at or send a letter of application and resume listing three references by regular mail to Committee Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, University of Idaho, College of Law, PO Box 442321, Moscow, Idaho 83844-2321. We will begin reviewing applications on September 15, 2007 and will consider applications until the until the position is filled. The University of Idaho is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer. Applications from those who would increase faculty diversity at the College of Law, or with significant experience working with diverse populations, are encouraged. More information about the College of Law is available at


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

New Book on Native Vote

As if timed to coincide with Matthew's last post, the Cambridge University Press has released a new book on the importance of the native vote, and all of the cases challenging efforts to block it. As Matthew says, not enough Indian law scholars follow this issue, although it is an increasingly important one in Indian country and national politics. The press release below gives some more information on the book:

While American Indians are not the most influential minority group in the United States, a new book written by a team of University of Utah researchers says their growing influence in national and local politics could make them a deciding factor in future elections.

The book Native Vote. American Indians, The Voting Rights Act and the Right to Vote (Cambridge University Press, 2007) co-authored by Dan McCool, director of the University of Utah's American West Center, points to specific elections in which the American Indian vote has helped carry the Democratic candidate to office. The book argues that the power of the American Indian vote has relied on their voting as a Democratic block, originating back to the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Today, this voting behavior makes them particularly important, especially in state races.

"For such a small population, they can be pivotal in future closely contested elections," McCool said.


The book is the first to comprehensively chronicle more than 70 voting rights cases brought in the courts by American Indians since the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965.

Publisher’s link:

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Friday, June 01, 2007

US Attorneys and Indian Country Voting Rights

I've previously written about the connection between the US Attorney firing scandals and Indian Country, focusing on former USA for the W.D. Mich., Margaret Chiara. Four of the eight fired USAs were located in districts featuring extensive Indian Country territories. One or more USAs were targeted for allegedly spending too much time prosecuting cases in Indian Country or working on tribal issues. has been expanding the scope of the connection by reporting the possibility that former D. Minn. USA Tom Heffelfinger was listed for termination because he apparently questioned a state law that forbade the use of tribal IDs at voting places.

This adds a new wrinkle to the connection to Indian Country -- voting. Jack Balkin blogged that perhaps the biggest issue for the Bush II administration's decision to replace several USAs was voting rights. I think few people know how many counties in Indian Country are still in violation of the Voting Rights Act. See here and here and here.