American Indians, Time, and the Law


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Native Societies in a Modern Constitutional Democracy

Charles F. Wilkinson

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In 1959, the Supreme Court ushered in a new era of Indian law, which recognizes Indian tribes as permanent governments within the federal constitutional system and, on the whole, honors old promises to the Indians. Drawing together historical sources such as the records of treaty negotiations with the Indians, classic political theory on the nature of sovereignty, and anthropological studies of societal change, Wilkinson evaluates the Court’s work in Indian law over the past twenty-five years and considers the effects of time on law.

"A remarkable, superbly crafted book. American Indians, Time, And The Law shapes the complex elements of recent Indian law development into a fascinating and coherent account. It should be read by all concerned with the status of the Indian tribes. I recommend it enthusiastically."—Francis Paul Prucha, author of The Great Father: The United States Government And The American Indians













"A sound and thoughtful book, altogether convincing and extremely well articulated."—Eugene V. Rostow

"Lucid, well-organized, and ably written, this is an original and significant contribution to an understanding of Indian affairs. It is 'must reading' for anyone interested in that field."—Alvin M. Josephy, Jr., author of numerous books on Indians and the American West

"Charles Wilkinson has produced a rare achievement of constitutional scholarship, an insightful analysis which uses law and history to illuminate fundamental human rights. After reading American Indians, Time, and the Law, one has a sense of both the tragedy and nobility of the Rule of Law and of the ultimate relationship of law and civilization."—Rennard Strickland, dean and professor, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

"A perceptive analysis of the unique legal status of modern American Indians. Wilkinson's discussion of tribalism sovereignty and tribal jurisprudence will be valuable to historians, members of the legal profession, and especially tribal administrators. This volume should be required reading in any course focusing upon American Indians in the twentieth century."—R. David Edmunds, Professor of History, Texas Christian University

"[Wilkinson] has no superior in knowledge of the complex field of Indian law."—Choice

"Wilkinson has opens up an important new frontier in Indian law."—Robert A. Williams, Jr., Michigan Law Review

"It is seldom that so useful a book as Americans Indians, Time, And The Law is written. Besides the great utility the work has for lawyers, historians, and political scientist, scholars of many other disciplines will find it unendingly useful. But more important than all of the above, it gives to tribal people  and their leaders a source of information which has been desperately needed. The work's themes are fresh and are handled with great competence. . . . This book is indispensable for all who would understand American Indian law."—Floyd A. O'Neil, Western Historical Quarterly

"This book offers the most cogent argument for special Indian rights since Felix S. Cohen's Handbook of Federal Indian Law."—Robvert H. Keller, Jr., Journal of American History

"[This] is a scholarly book, but it is also persuasive, readable and fascinating. Seldom have legal abstractions been so ably distilled as here."—Allen Boyer, New York Times Book Review

"One of the best books a lawyer or nonlawyer interested in Indian law can read. . . . Wilkinson brings into focus many of the confusing and seemingly contradictory actions of the Supreme Court. He does this by utilizing history, rules of constitutional law, and the dynamics between tribal, federal, and state governments,"—Allen Core, American Indian Law Review

"A timely and scholarly legal analysis of the most disadvantaged population in the United States, the American Indians. A thorough and thoughtful study."—David L. Gregory, Wisconsin Law Review

 "This important book will quickly win a prominent position in the field, and scholars will be turning to it for many years."—Larry Burt, American Historical Review

"An important fresh starting point for anyone wanting a brief yet comprehensive overview of modern American Indian law as it exists today."—Bruce Clark, Canadian Review of American Studies

"Has the distinction of weaving together diverse case law with such clarity and elegance."—Janet Jordan Dillon, American Indian Quarterly

"Every reader will gain instruction about the peculiar nature of American Indian law and its importance to the survival of the tribes. Librarians with shelves assigned to volumes on either legal or tribal subjects are urged to add American Indians, Time, And The Law to their collections."—Herbert T. Hoover, South Dakota History

"The author demonstrates convincingly how federal court decisions offered the only protection for the tribes from congressional legislation or BIA efforts to abolish past treaty rights and to bring about forced acculturation and assimilation. . . . Despite the complex legal issues he discusses, Wilkinson presents his ideas and arguments clearly and understandably for non-legal scholars. His thesis is clearly stated, his research and arguments support if impressively, and his conclusions are sensible. This is a thoughtful, soundly written book. The often unique position that Indians occupy among American ethnic groups makes the author's findings significant. . . . [A] wide-ranging study."—Roger L. Nichols, Journal Of American Ethnic History

"American Indians, Time, and the Law is an intriguing work. Wilkenson's thesis explains many of the ambiguities and contradictions that exist in the field of American Indian Law. . . . Crucial reading for anyone interested in the subject."—Gregory R. Campbell, Oklahoma Historical Society

"For those who have even the slightest interest in American Indians in the modern era, Wilkinson's brief, insightful, well-written book is worth reading; for historians and Indian law buffs, it is a must."—Lee R. Boyer, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science

"The book is finely researched. . . . Gives the reader access to great stores of information."—Abby Abinanti, Society and Natural Resources 
ISBN: 9780300041361
Publication Date: March 23, 1988
227 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4