In 1941, after decades of struggling to hold on to the remainder of their aboriginal home, the Hualapai Indians finally took their case to the Supreme Courtand won. The Hualapai case was the culminating event in a legal and intellectual revolution that transformed Indian law and ushered in a new way of writing Indian history that provided legal grounds for native land claims. But Making Indian Law is about more than a legal decision. It’s the story of Hualapai activists, and eventually sympathetic lawyers, who challenged both the Santa Fe Railroad and the U.S. government to a courtroom showdown over the meaning of Indian property rightsand the Indian past.
At the heart of the Hualapai campaign to save the reservation was documenting the history of Hualapai land use. Making Indian Law showcases the central role that the Hualapai and their lawyers played in formulating new understandings of native people, their property, and their past. To this day, the impact of the Hualapai decision is felt wherever and whenever indigenous land claims are litigated throughout the world.