A review of Peter d’Errico’s Federal Anti-Indian Law: The Legal Entrapment of Indigenous Peoples, an indictment of a legal system with the unflinching goal of stealing as much land as possible.
Despite its confusion and contradictions, federal Indian law — in d’Errico’s terms, “anti-Indian law” — has long had an unchanging purpose. By destroying Native individuals and communities, it has helped the rich and powerful scoop up vast lands and resources. This landgrab is accomplished in part because what’s typically called federal Indian law is hardly a systematic set of statutes. Instead, according to d’Errico, it’s what mid-20th-century U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter called “a vast hodge-podge” and covers all areas of Indigenous life and activity with a massive array of U.S. court decisions, laws, executive orders and agency regulations that have piled up over the years in a disorderly and improvised fashion.
Kent McNeil, a professor emeritus at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University in Toronto, calls d’Errico’s Federal Anti-Indian Law “a frontal attack on the whole field of American law pertaining to Indigenous peoples.” He lauds it as a “must-read” for those wanting to understand what motivates any claims that the dispossession of Indigenous people has been legally sound. Similarly, Robert Maxim, a senior research associate at the Brookings Institution and a Mashpee Wampanoag tribal citizen, hails the book as “important and enlightening for all people, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike.”
Throughout the chaos, the application of U.S. law to Indigenous people has had an unflinching goal: theft.
Source: Shaky Ground: How the United States Uses the Law to Steal Indigenous Land – In These Times
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