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Hollow Justice

Hollow Justice: A History of Indigenous Claims in the United States

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Hollow Justice
    Book Description:

    This book, the first of its kind, comprehensively explores Native American claims against the United States government over the past two centuries. Despite the federal government's multiple attempts to redress indigenous claims, a close examination reveals that even when compensatory programs were instituted, Native peoples never attained a genuine sense of justice. David E. Wilkins addresses the important question of what one nation owes another when the balance of rights, resources, and responsibilities have been negotiated through treaties. How does the United States assure that guarantees made to tribal nations, whether through a century old treaty or a modern day compact, remain viable and lasting?

    eISBN: 978-0-300-18600-0
    Subjects: Law, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xx)
  4. 1. NATIVE NATIONS AND THE COURT OF CLAIMS: A Study in Frustration and Despair
    (pp. 1-26)

    In the beginning the land now known as North America belonged to the indigenous peoples. Indeed, the lyrics of folksinger Woody Guthrie defined the boundaries well: from California to the New York Island; from the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters. Native peoples indisputably were the possessors and owners of all this rich territory. Unfortunately, the title of Guthrie’s folksong, “This Land Is Your Land,” does not quite hit the mark. From a Native perspective, the title should have been “This Land Was Our Land.” Whereas once the entire North American landmass belonged to Native nations, by 1900 they...

    (pp. 27-38)

    Much has been made of the difficulties that confronted indigenous nations when they sought compensation from the government. Few would argue that the institutional, legal, and perceptual obstacles they faced in this quest were not just high but were, in fact, at times insurmountable. But what about the whites who had been allegedly injured due to some type of Native transgression? Did the white settlers run into the same difficulties as natives when seeking satisfaction? Clearly any attempt to obtain compensation from the federal government can be an onerous task, but compared to the struggles of Native peoples, the difficulties...

    (pp. 39-70)

    The staggering losses—territorial, political, legal, cultural, psychological—sustained by the indigenous nations of what is now the U.S. during the past half a millennia are incalculable, beyond precise measurement. These losses, and the trauma that accompanied them, were generated by an ever-acquisitive set of European powers and their colonial appendages in North America. The losses continued, indeed were exacerbated, once the U.S. was formally established as a nation in the latter part of the eighteenth century. The fact that the federal government, despite its established treaty and trust relationship with Native peoples, occupied the most critical role in this...

  7. 4. THE INDIAN CLAIMS COMMISSION: From Hope to Reality
    (pp. 71-95)

    The indian claims Commission (ICC) was not an ideal mechanism that some had expected. But to others its creation was viewed as a godsend that at long last provided some promise of hope. Native peoples no longer had to fight individually to have bills introduced that would, if successful, allow them to file claim suits against the federal government. And no longer could single lawmakers block a tribe’s right to present its claim before a court. All natives would now have an opportunity to have their claims heard by a commission empowered to hear their claims.¹ These hopeful prospects were...

  8. 5. THE INDIAN CLAIMS COMMISSION: Its Politics and Operations
    (pp. 96-125)

    A cursory reading of the legislative hearings that led to the passage of the Indian Claims Commission Act (ICCA) reveals three fundamental purposes. First, the claims problems confronting Native peoples were of sufficient magnitude to justify the creation of a distinct mechanism to address their resolution. Second, the procedures and structural apparatus established to deal with these problems were to be straightforward and guarantee indigenous nations a prompt and fair hearing. And finally, the 1946 act was to bring about a final resolution of aboriginal claims within a reasonable period of time. What could be more self-evident? Congress created the...

  9. 6. THE RESURGENCE OF EASTERN NATIVES: The Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1980
    (pp. 126-141)

    Before the 1970s, with a few aboriginal exceptions, Native nations living east of the Mississippi were virtually ignored by federal officials, state governments, and the majority of non-Indians. This naiveté or benign neglect of Native nations and their relation to their historic lands was forever altered beginning in 1975 when an important federal appellate case—Joint Tribal Council of the Passamaquoddy Tribe et al. v. Morton et al.—was handed down.¹ This decision, involving the Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, and Houlton band of Maliseet peoples of Maine, initiated a third flank of indigenous land claim attacks that eventually included a number of...

    (pp. 142-182)

    On june 20, 2011, federal district judge Thomas F. Homan held a fairness hearing during which he heard arguments from the lawyers representing Elouise Pepion Cobell and a half million Indian plaintiffs and from lawyers representing the Departments of Interior and Treasury inCobell v. Salazar. As part of the hearing Judge Homan also received objections from some members of the plaintiffs’ class in connection with the class action settlement on Indian trust management approved by Congress on December 7, 2009. That settlement, in which the U.S. agreed to pay the Indian plaintiffs and their attorneys $3.4 billion, was followed...

    (pp. 183-204)

    James sheehan has said that “a claim is neither a request nor a demand.” It is, in fact, “an appeal to some standard of justice, some sort of right, but it is also to assert a willingness to back up this appeal with some sort of action.”¹ For powerful or even semi-powerful international states the form of action can be in the nature of war, or at least the threat of violent action. For most Native nations in North America, by the mid to late 1800s, such recourse was no longer feasible, given the devastating demographic and territorial losses they...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 205-226)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 227-236)
  14. Index
    (pp. 237-249)