"Federal Indian law . . . is a loosely related collection of past and present acts of Congress, treaties and agreements, executive orders, administrative rulings, and judicial opinions, connected only by the fact that law in some form has been applied haphazardly to American Indians over the course of several centuries. . . . Indians in their tribal relation and Indian tribes in their relation to the federal government hang suspended in a legal wonderland."
In this book, two prominent scholars of American Indian law and politics undertake a full historical examination of the relationship between Indians and the United States Constitution that explains the present state of confusion and inconsistent application in U.S. Indian law. The authors examine all sections of the Constitution that explicitly and implicitly apply to Indians and discuss how they have been interpreted and applied from the early republic up to the present. They convincingly argue that the Constitution does not provide any legal rights for American Indians and that the treaty-making process should govern relations between Indian nations and the federal government.
Prominent American Indian activist Deloria, a Standing Rock Sioux, joins with Wilkins (American Indian studies and political science, Univ. of Minnesota) to deliver a shocking indictment of American constitutional law as it regards American Indians. In tracing Euro-American relations with Indians from the "discovery" of the New World to the present day, the authors demonstrate that legal and political definitions of Indian sovereignty and rights have been, and still are, incoherent and inconsiderate. As a result, the brief mentions of Indians in the U.S. Constitution have not been adequately defined in legal or moral terms, and no one has considered how current Indian nations fit into the American constitutional framework. The authors' structured discussion works well. But while theirs is a much-needed historical work, it misses being a thorough legal analysis of the many U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have stripped away even the slimmest constitutional guarantees. A very readable popular work that is perhaps not best suited for legal research.--Steven Anderson, Gordon Feinblatt Rothman Hoffberger & Hollander, Towson, MD Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\