Course code:



M - Intermediate

Class size limit:


Meets the following requirements:

  • HS - Human Studies

Lab fee:


Typically offered:

Upon occasion

From first contact through the confrontation surrounding the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Dakota Access Pipeline, Native American law has tried to reconcile two incommensurate legal systems and widely varying government policies.  This course examines the evolution of federal Native American or “Indian” Law from colonization onward as impacted by treaties, executive orders, congressional enactments, and major US Supreme Court cases interpreting the US Constitution and statutes as they involve Native American legal issues.

This is not a class about tribal law or the indigenous legal systems that exist among the various tribes in the US.  Rather, it examines the legal system imposed on tribes from the outside; a system that has evolved over time and creates the legal framework which tribes operate under today.

Students will gain an understanding of law as a policy tool and framework, and acquire the necessary skills to work on policy issues affecting native peoples.  We will focus on primary legal material as well as secondary interpretations of that material.  There will be some comparative law analysis from other countries and an examination of how the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples relates to US practices.  Students will complete several analytical problem sets that require an application of course concepts to fact scenarios as well as a major paper on a legal topic of their choosing.  A class visit to a Maine reservation will allow conversation with tribal leaders involved with current environmental and Native American issues in Maine.  


None beyond proficiency in college-level reading, writing, critical thinking, and research skills; however, Indigenous America is strongly recommended.

Always visit the Registrar's Office for the official course catalog and schedules.