Thank you, Al, for inviting and introducing me. I've been reading The Faculty Lounge since you all started it. We started our blog, Turtle Talk in 2007, just before The Faculty Lounge. Though I don't post nearly as much as my colleague, Matthew Fletcher, it's taken some time to be able to tear myself away and write over here. Turtle Talk is comprised mostly of primary source material surrounding cases in federal Indian law (briefs, decisions, news articles, law review articles), though we periodically post commentary. This has the added benefit of keeping us fully engaged in developments in our field, which can at times feel overwhelming.
Al said he wanted to hear a bit about history in federal Indian law, but as a non-Ph.D holding person, this always makes me nervous! I majored in history in undergrad, but did not complete (nor attempt) any graduate work in the field. However, in law school I wrote a small history paper on the Cherokee Freedmen and treaty concerns, and then found myself digging into the issue of laches and Haudenosaunee land claims once I was employed by Michigan State. Tracing the dramatic shift in the equitable defense of laches from its development in England to a series of cases in the Second Circuit, starting with Cayuga Indian Nation v. Pataki, made me antsy to write about legal history and the Supreme Court, at least as it affected American Indian tribes.
My most recent article identifies fundamental problems with originalism interpretation and how the assumptions underlying that interpretation harm tribal interests today. I've had a mixed response, including the argument that the Constitution provides strong language for tribes under an originalist interpretation. I'm not sure that's entirely true, regardless, given the dismal results for tribal interests at the Supreme Court, the argument certainly isn't working, which is what I was (and am) interested in.
To begin my time here, however, I think I'll start with the other area of my focus, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The Act, passed by Congress in 1978 and interpreted by the Supreme Court once in Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians v. Holyfield, is in front of the Supreme Court again this term. This semester I'm also teaching a class on ICWA. I hope to write here about ICWA, how I changed my ICWA class at the last minute to incorporate the case (and what I'd change in the future), how amicus briefs inform my writing and teaching, how my service on the Court Improvement Program in my state provides me with ideas for teaching, and back to how my role at the law school often leads me to base my writing projects on external needs or requests for our Center. I still have writing projects in mind surrounding equity and tribes, the public interest doctrine and tribes, and one with a friend tracing the history of the modern Haudenosaunee land claims cases, which I hope to get back to as our semester winds up.
Till then, thank you again for having me.