Native Americans and U.S. Law

For many years, anthropological research has documented the unannounced negative effects of law in the United States and elsewhere. Laws that purport to protect indigenous peoples can frequently wind up disenfranchising them in subtle or obvious ways. One well-documented example is the long-term effect of U.S. law on Native Americans’ rights to control their land and lives. Why, then, do some Native Americans continue to work with and even believe in formal U.S. law?

The November 2009 issue (Volume 32, Issue 2) of the Political and Legal Anthropology Review included two articles focusing on Native Americans’ relationship with U.S. law, one by an anthropologist and one by a law professor who is also a Native American activist:


Here we continue the conversation: